NFL News: New York Jets Shocked By Major Retirement Announcement

If nothing else, the New York Jets’ offseason has been quite memorable. Inside team headquarters, however, they might use a different adjective. They’ve yet to come to an agreement with free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and haven’t hinted at a Plan B in the event he doesn’t return to New York. The Jets released star cornerback Antonio Cromartie. They placed the franchise tag on Muhammad Wilkerson, with rumors now swirling that they’ll end up trading him. Instead of focusing on offseason training, wide receiver Brandon Marshall has been testifying at a trial centered around a 2012 nightclub brawl, where he now claims he feared for his life. Sheldon Richardson has dealt with his own legal issues as well.

And if all that weren’t enough, the Jets just received news on Friday that offensive lineman D’Brickashaw Ferguson is retiring, per a report from Pro Football Talk. It’s a stunning move considering that during his 10-year NFL career, Ferguson never missed a game or a practice and never showed up on an injury report. Last week, the Jets approached their durable left tackle about the possibility of taking a pay cut, but the conversations did not go much further than that. The idea of restructuring Ferguson’s $14.1 million contract for 2016 was so that the Jets could clear some of that space to retain Fitzpatrick. With Ferguson retiring, the team will save $9 million, and keeping their quarterback should be that much easier.

D'Brickashaw Ferguson retires
[Photo by AP]

Back in December of 2015, Ferguson, who has miraculously missed just one snap in his entire tenure with the Jets, wrote an article for Sports Illustrated after seeing the movie Concussion starring Will Smith. It seemed to drastically change his perception of football and the effects it can have on its players.

“Since seeing Concussion, I can’t avoid wondering if I am in danger of experiencing some degree of brain injury when I am done playing. It couldn’t happen to me, right?… It’s a different conversation when you are involved in the story and not just watching a movie about it. I fear the unavoidable truth is that playing football has placed me in harm’s way, and I am not yet sure of the full extent of what it might cost me. And yet, would I do it all again? I would, considering what I have accomplished on and off the field because of my relationship with football.”

D'Brickashaw Ferguson retires
[Photo by Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini]

So the Jets may be able to keep their quarterback but won’t have the only left tackle the organization has known for the last decade to protect him. The team has been considering alternatives, even before the announcement, which include drafting a tackle with the 20th overall pick in this month’s NFL Draft or trading for one. The Jets made D’Brickashaw the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft and inserted him into one of the most important positions on the field from day one. He’s one of only three players to start all 160 regular-season games from 2006, joining quarterbacks Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. He’s even started more than notable ironmen Drew Brees and Jason Witten.

The 32-year-old Ferguson decided to retire from football before he became either a liability or incapable of living up to the quality of play he was accustomed to. The former University of Virginia product made the Pro Bowl three times while with the Jets. Fellow lineman Nick Mangold entered the league the same year as Ferguson, when the Jets drafted him 29th overall out of Ohio State University. Like Ferguson, Mangold started from day one and has missed just four games over that span. Getting 316 total games out of two offensive linemen drafted in the same year is a rarity and one the Jets likely won’t take for granted. But for now, they find themselves with a gaping hole on the left side of their line.

[Photo by Julio Cortez/AP Images]

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