The Jets have cut ties with left tackle Ryan Clady, whose 2017 salary cap number was prohibitively high. But could he still return to the team next season, at a lower price?

The Jets on Wednesday did not pick up Clady’s contract option for 2017, a league source confirmed. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the news. 

The Jets had a Wednesday deadline for a Clady decision. That’s when Clady’s $1 million roster bonus became fully guaranteed. Clady was due to have a non-guaranteed base salary of $10 million in 2017. That was too high for him.

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If Clady doesn’t return to the Jets next season, they will create $10 million in cap space (his salary number), but will have to eat a dead money figure of $600,000 (his prorated signing bonus). Remember, though, the Jets would still need to replace Clady at left tackle. 

Perhaps the Jets could bring Clady back on a reduced contract. His salary cap hit last season was $5.5 million, including a $3.5 million base salary. That would be a reasonable number for Clady in 2017, presuming no other team gives him more in free agency.

Though this is considered a weak year for left tackles in both free agency and the draft, it seems unlikely Clady would command a large dollar figure on the free agent market. 

The Jets traded for Clady last offseason to replace the retiring, remarkably durable D’Brickashaw Ferguson. But Clady was a disappointment in 2016, when he lasted just half the season before landing on injured reserve. 

Clady, who turns 31 in September, has been hampered by injuries in recent seasons. He was limited to two games in 2013 with the Broncos, because of a foot fracture. After playing a full season in 2014 and making the Pro Bowl, he didn’t play in 2015, because of an ACL tear.

Last season, he played in nine games (with eight starts) for the Jets before a torn rotator cuff put him on IR. 

In the bigger picture, the Jets need to get younger on their offensive line. Clady, entering the final year of his contract in 2017, isn’t a long-term solution, even if he returns next season. 

The Jets also are expected to cut right tackle Breno Giacomini, limited last year by a back injury. The move would create $4.5 million in cap space, with $625,000 in dead money attached. Giacomini turns 32 in September. He is no longer an effective player. 

When Clady went on IR last season, the Jets replaced him with Ben Ijalana, a career backup who turns 28 in August. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March.

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Ijalana isn’t an elite left tackle, but he is a serviceable player with 13 career starts, all last season, when he played both tackle positions. 

Presuming Giacomini is cut, Ijalana or Brandon Shell could replace him at right tackle, depending on what happens with Clady’s potential return, and whether the Jets would need Ijalana at left tackle. The Jets drafted Shell in Round 5 last year. 

Darryl Slater may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @DarrylSlater. Find Jets on Facebook.

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