Giving a grade to something like the Ryan Clady trade just a few days after it happened is a silly venture. We need to see how it plays out to be able to properly evaluate it. That will not stop me from putting a grade on it anyway.
Why the trade looks like a winner.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson's retirement left the Jets in dire need of a new left tackle. It is a premium position. Going into the season with a scrap heap player there could sink the season. Clady was far and away the best and most proven option on the market. His track record in the NFL is excellent. He has been to four Pro Bowls.
The fact the Jets were able to restructure his contract also works in favor of the trade. The Jets were trying to get Ferguson to take a pay cut in the range of what they will ultimately be paying Clady. Now they get a younger and more decorated player at that cost.
Speaking of cost, flipping a fifth round pick for a seventh rounder is an absurdly low price to get a star level left tackle.
Why the trade doesn't look like a winner.
Ferguson was an iron man. He missed one snap in a decade. That is incredible for a guy working in the trenches. Clady has been anything but an iron man recently. He has suffered two serious injuries in the last three seasons and missed over 60% of Denver's games. There is definite injury risk here. If Clady gets hurt again, the Jets are right back at square one at a critical position.
A few people have also noted that Clady's 2014 season was not up to his normal standards. Why is this such a big deal? He missed almost all of 2013 and all of 2015 with injuries. 2014 is the only time he saw significant playing time. That means it has been four years since he has been a premium tackle. Was 2014 a sign of decline? Was it due to him not being fully healed? Was it an aberration? We do not know right now.
Even with the risk in the deal, I think this was definitely worth doing. Again, the Jets needed a left tackle. Clady was the best one available. Even if Clady shows steep decline in his game, there is a good chance he will play at a higher level in 2016 than Ferguson did in 2015. At the very least, a healthy Clady should give the Jets a viable stopgap. And if he reverts to his old level of play, this trade becomes a steal.
Everybody seems to be getting a lot of praise. Mike Maccagnan landed his tackle. John Elway got something for a player it looked like he was going to have to cut. Right now it seems like a win-win deal on paper. Time will ultimately tell the story. If Clady suffers another serious injury, Maccagnan will not look like such a winner. If, however, Clady starts looking like a star, and Russell Okung disappoints in Denver, Elway will not come away looking like such a winner.
We cannot tell the future, though. We can only judge this based on how things look now. I have to knock this down a grade to price in the injury risk. I think this trade makes all of the sense in the world from the Jets perspective.