A familiar face roamed the Broncos’ training facility Saturday afternoon as the team took their final practice of the 2017 season. Former offensive tackle and Broncos first-round draft pick, Ryan Clady, was back where his NFL career started to ensure it would end there, too.
Clady signed a retirement letter to unofficially end his career as a Denver Bronco and was honored by the team during practice. Ahead of Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, Clady will be an honorary captain for the coin toss and the Broncos will later show a video tribute in recognition of his seven seasons with the team.
You’re always welcome here, @RyanClady.
Today, the All-Pro tackle signed a one-day contract so he could officially retire as a Bronco. 👏 pic.twitter.com/EYLgVfufZk
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 30, 2017
— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) December 30, 2017
Clady was drafted in the first round (No. 12) in 2008 and started every game for his first five seasons. Though injuries derailed the latter years of his NFL career, Clady picked up four Pro Bowl nods and three all-pro designations (two on the first team). He finished third in the 2008 rookie of the year voting and was widely viewed as the top offensive tackle in the league for years after.
“He’s just a dominant left tackle,” Broncos linebacker Von Miller said. “I don’t think he gets enough credit. He’s just a dominant tackle in general, left or right. I just remember him locking up some of the best from Demarcus (Ware) when he was with the Cowboys or Dwight Freeney or everybody. I don’t think he got enough credit for that. If he played in the era that we play in now where every single play is on Pro Football Focus and all of this other stuff, he would have more recognition. But he was truly a dominant player. He was very soft-spoken. Usually, when you have guys like that that are so dominant, they let their play speak for them. He was a hell of a leader. I just remember him taking me under his wing since Day One. He is great. I wish he could have finished here with the Broncos, but that’s the nature of the beast. He was an incredible friend and an incredible teammate. It’s a cool honor to have him honored at the game.”
In April 2016, Clady was shipped to the New York Jets and, after another year on injured reserve (rotator cuff), decided to call it a career. Clady announced his retirement from the NFL in August.