I think it is fair to say D'Brickashaw Ferguson is not the player he used to be. Five or six years ago, I might have told you Brick was either in the first or second tier of starting left tackles in the league. That probably isn't true anymore. Although PFF one blamed Brick for one sack this season, they had him tied for 19th most pressures allowed at the tackle position. Remember, there are 64 starting tackles in the NFL.
Because Mike Tannenbaum and John Idzik restructured his contract so many times, Ferguson's cap charges over the next three seasons will be $11.7 million, $14.1 million, and $14.3 million. It might seem like Ferguson would be an obvious cut, but against the restructures come into play. If they cut him this offseason, the Jets would be charged $9 million. So they'd save less than $3 million this season, and probably need to spend more than that on a replacement.
The prudent move is to keep him another year. It goes beyond money. I rewatched a bunch of Brick's season, and while I think there has been some decline in his play, I'm not sure the numbers tell the whole story. We frequently hear about how some player has bad surroundings, and this is the excuse for his bad play. Most of the time this doesn't hold water. I think it might with Brick to some degree.
The one sack PFF did charge to him was an example. Brick was beaten by DeMarcus Ware on what appeared to be a swim move. It's also worth noting this happened because Geno Smith held the ball for around five seconds on that play. Brick was beaten. If you're paying your left tackle eight figures, you want him to be able to hold up for five seconds. Still, this is a lot to ask. Smith's problems with holding the ball too long are well-documented, but it's worth noting that the rest of the line didn't hold up terribly well.
There were instances where the other team was running a stunt. Brick tries to pass his man off inside, but the left guard doesn't recognize it quickly enough. Brick is in no position to recover when the inside lineman loops outside into his territory.
Anecdotally it seemed like the Jets were focused on sending help Breno Giacomini's way much more frequently. Rightly so, Giacomini is a poor pass blocker. This left Ferguson with little help. Again for the amount of money he is making, you'd expect him to be able to hold up one on one all the time. I get the feeling, though, that the issue is his contract more than his play. I think he can be part of the solution if the circumstances aren't so bad. He just can't carry the line himself.
One area where he has seldom been strong is run blocking. Add that to the issues we've described above, and you have a disappointing year.
I view 2015 as a test year for Brick. In a year, his contract will not be as burdensome to cut if he has a rough season. On the other hand, he has been a Jet his entire career. If he has a steady year, he might be willing to agree to a new deal that gets his cap charge more in line with his play. Either way, the Jets might want to look for a long-term replacement now. They will have the luxury of breaking in a new player at either left guard or right tackle for a year or longer with Ferguson still around.