Jets OT Ryan Clady has something to prove, chip on his shoulder

ByRich Cimini via ESPN logo
Wednesday, June 8, 2016

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- After eight seasons and four Pro Bowls with the Denver Broncos, left tackle Ryan Clady is starting over with the New York Jets, motivated by a divorce that apparently left some hard feelings.

"I think it stings a little bit," Clady said Wednesday, conducting his first interview since being traded in mid-April. "There's a chip on my shoulder. I feel like I have something to prove. I'm ready for the challenge."

Clady became expendable when the Broncos, perhaps concerned about his durability and high cap number, signed Russell Okung to play left tackle. After refusing to take a pay cut, Clady, who missed the 2015 season due to knee surgery, was put on the trading block.

The Jets traded a fifth-round pick for Clady to replace longtime starter D'Brickashaw Ferguson, who retired abruptly after 10 seasons. Clady agreed to a restructured contract -- two years, $16 million, less than what he was scheduled to make from the Broncos.

Once regarded as one of Denver's cornerstone players, Clady was sent packing after what he called a "bittersweet" season. As he rehabbed his second major surgery in three years, the Broncos went on to win the Super Bowl.

Nevertheless, Clady rejoined his former team on Monday for the traditional White House ceremony. He admitted it was "a little awkward," but he added, "It was cool. I saw some of my guys and shook hands with [President Barack] Obama. Can't beat that."

The Jets expect Clady to take over for Ferguson, but they're not rushing him back from his injury. He's practicing on a limited basis for now, but he expects to be a full participant when training camp begins in late July.

Clady has drawn comparisons to Ferguson because of his quiet demeanor and style of play -- an athletic pass protector on the blind side.

"It's a little awkward," Clady said. "A lot of guys still talk about [Ferguson], which they should. He was a great player and a great ambassador for the Jets."

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who befriended Clady during his playing days with the Broncos, said Clady and Ferguson are "the same exact guy. He doesn't say much. There are times we go on double dates ... and he just sits there. He doesn't say much. He's a boring date."

Clady, who turns 30 on Sept. 6, is three years younger than Ferguson, but he is injury prone. He has missed 30 of the past 48 games because of foot and knee injuries.

He tore his ACL on May 28 in offseason workouts. He suffered a severe Lisfranc injury in Week 3 of the 2013 season and was placed on season-ending injured reserve, missing the Broncos' run to the Super Bowl that season.

Ferguson never missed so much as a practice in 10 years.