Source: Ryan Clady a free agent after Jets decline 2017 option

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Thursday, February 16, 2017

The New York Jets have released high-priced left tackle Ryan Clady, the start of what figures to be an offseason roster purge.

On Wednesday, the team informed Clady's agent it won't pay a $1 million roster bonus, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. By not paying the bonus, due Wednesday, the Jets made Clady a free agent.

Clady, 30, whom they acquired only 10 months ago in a trade with the Denver Broncos, also was scheduled to make a non-guaranteed $10 million in base salary in the final year of the contract he signed last April to facilitate the trade.

The Jets cleared $10 million in cap space by cutting Clady, which should get them under the projected salary cap for 2017. Previously, they were about $7 million over the cap.

This was the first significant salary dump in what figures to be a major overhaul. High-profile players such as Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold and Brandon Marshall could follow him out the door.

The Jets, unsuccessful in their attempt to convince Clady to take a pay cut, could re-sign him at a later date. Clady, who missed the final seven games after tearing a rotator cuff, is recovering from surgery.

For now, they have a gaping hole at left tackle. Ben Ijalana, who replaced Clady at left tackle, is a pending free agent. There is no heir apparent on the roster.

This is a rare case of instability for the Jets.

For 10 years, the left-tackle position was manned by D'Brickashaw Ferguson, but he retired abruptly last April. The Jets took a chance on the talented, injury-plagued Clady, trading a fifth-round pick to the Broncos. The Jets also received a seventh-rounder in return.

Clady, a first-round pick in 2008, made four Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams during his seven seasons in Denver. Because of foot and knee injuries, he played in only 18 games from 2013 to 2015.

The injury curse struck again last season. Clady tore a rotator cuff in Week 3, according to the Jets, but he played through it for a month. It became unbearable and he was placed on injured reserve after the ninth game.