D'Brickashaw Ferguson is walking away from football after 10 years of protecting Jets quarterbacks.
The remarkably durable and consistent left tackle who never missed a snap due to injury has decided to retire, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Friday.
Ferguson was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft and was selected to three Pro Bowls while establishing himself as one of the league's best at his position. But he has chosen to walk away, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Friday because neither the Jets nor Ferguson announced the move.
ESPN first reported Ferguson's decision to retire.
The news comes as a stunner since it was believed the 32-year-old Ferguson had a few more solid seasons left. But his play slipped a bit last season and there were no guarantees he would be on the Jets' roster this season because of his lofty salary.
Ferguson was scheduled to count $14.1 million against the team's salary cap in 2016, and had been approached by the team about potentially taking a pay cut to help give the Jets relief. If he didn't agree to a cut, there was a possibility he would have been released.
Instead, Ferguson's retirement will create nearly $9.1 million in salary cap space, which will help the Jets in their negotiations to re-sign quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. They had only about $500,000 in cap space, lowest among all NFL teams.
Ferguson started every game over the last 10 seasons, 167 in a row, including the postseason, and missed just one snap - when then-coach Eric Mangini pulled the entire offensive line on a trick play in the 2008 season finale against Miami. He also incredibly never missed a practice or appeared on the team's weekly injury report.