There was no talk of Jets left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson retiring until the Jets tried to get him to take less money. And it’s quite possible that the decision crystallized after Ferguson realized that no one was willing to give him enough money to justify the continuation of his career.
Given the sequence of events, it’s reasonable to assume that Ferguson’s agent gauged the market and identified Ferguson’s alternatives elsewhere in light of whatever the Jets were offering on a reduced deal. It’s also reasonable to assume that Ferguson specifically opted not to take whatever the best offer was with the Jets or any other team, deciding instead to walk away.
The move likely comes with an agreement that the Jets won’t pursue any lingering signing bonus amounts that had not yet been fully earned (if there even are any); otherwise, Ferguson could have simply stood his ground and forced his release. By retiring, Ferguson also makes it harder to return and play for the team of his choice later, since the Jets would still hold his rights.
Although the timing of the retirement points to financial concerns, it’s entirely possible that Ferguson was motivated at least in part by health concerns. Ferguson reacted strongly after seeing Concussion, writing in an item for SI.com that “I feel a bit betrayed by the people or committees put in place by the league who did not have my best interests at heart.”
“Dr. Elliot Pellman was one of the Jets’ team doctors when I was a rookie in 2006, and to learn that he was a part of the group that tried to discredit the scope and impact of brain injuries among players within the league is disheartening,” Ferguson explained in his December 29 essay.
“When I initially heard about 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, who decided to retire after one professional season for the risk of brain injury, I thought perhaps he was acting very abruptly, but now I cannot fault him,” Ferguson wrote. “If we know the risks, then why do we still play? . . . 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.”
Regardless, Ferguson made it clear in December that he has no regrets.
“[W]ould I do it all again?” Ferguson wrote. “I would, considering what I have accomplished on and off the field because of my relationship with football.”
That relationship, after nearly two full decades, is over. Whether it’s because of the financial offers or health concerns or a combination of the two, he had a very good career, one that included Ferguson taking every single snap in every single game for 10 seasons.