The decision to extend the contract of Mark Sanchez was not made taking the team's long-term future into consideration. In order to open up cap space in the immediate future, the New York Jets signed Sanchez to a five-year deal worth over $58 million—freeing up just over $6 million in cap space this season. Although the new contract may help the team financially right now, Sanchez will not be able to live up to the $48.75 million he will earn from 2013 to 2016.
There are many reasons as to why the quarterback will fail to make sense of the contract through his play, as well as other factors involved. Not all reasons are in Sanchez's hands, but still play a significant role in the expectations that come with the kind of deal he has been given.
The following slides will explain why.
While the New York Jets do not have the NFL's worst receiving corps, they have settled for mediocrity at best.
Currently, the depth chart in New York consists of Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, Patrick Turner and second round draft pick Stephen Hill. If you have followed the draft or college football, you know Stephen Hill as a speedy receiver with the capabilities of stretching the field, but has had trouble catching the ball.
Most NFL fans are familiar with Holmes, as he is the best and only go-to option available to quarterback Mark Sanchez—and face it, if you are not a loyal Jets fan, you are most likely very unfamiliar with Kerley or Turner.
Last year, the Jets ranked 20th in the NFL in receiving yards per game at 221.4. Although 20th does not seem all that bad, it is concerning for Jets fans to see teams like the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins and Tennessee Titans ranked higher, despite having problems at quarterback as well as a weak receiving corps.
With this current roster of receivers, it will be improbable that Sanchez will have much help at all earning his money—and Sanchez needs all the help he can get.
Mark Sanchez's contract was designed to save cap space in 2012 and 2013, as he will be payed a base salary of $3.25 and $8.25 million respectively. The 2012 base salary is so low due to a $8 million signing bonus, which has allowed the New York Jets to free up more cap space.
Those salaries are not all that bad in the first two years of the contract, however once 2014 comes around, it starts to get interesting.
In 2014, Sanchez will be slated to earn $9 million. That is $1.5 million more than San Fransisco quarterback Alex Smith, and astonishingly only $750,000 less than what Tom Brady will earn with the New England Patriots.
Earning more than Smith is not too alarming, even though he put together a great season this past year and came through in the clutch during the postseason leading his team to the NFC Championship, and falling a fumble short of a Super Bowl berth.
Earning just $750,000 less than Brady however, is ludicrous.
In 2015, Sanchez will pocket $12.5 million—a million more than Ben Roethlisberger.
Being payed as one of the league's best quarterbacks is usually derived from great performances and memorable wins. Both Brady and Big Ben have won multiple Super Bowls. What does Sanchez have to show for his money?
Sanchez simply just does not have the talent or players around him to justify the money spent in the contract comparable to Brady's and Roethlisberger's.
As I am sure all New York Jets fans hate their divisional foes, no more than the New England Patriots, it plays an important role into Sanchez's ability to live up to his contract.
Only Matt Moore of the Miami Dolphins threw for less yards than Mark Sanchez—while both Tom Brady and Ryan Fitzpatrick both eclipsed Sanchez.
Unfortunately, since the Jets will face off against Buffalo and New England each twice, Sanchez will face tough comparison, more notably versus Brady and his monster offense.
While playing in the AFC East, Sanchez will continue to live in the shadows of a quarterback many believe to be one of the greatest to play the game. After the Patriots have only gotten better on offense, and the Jets failed to improve through free agency, it will be another year of watching Brady outplay his contract while Sanchez watches.
Having two teams in the same city has a devastating effect on Mark Sanchez living up to his contract.
Technically, the two teams are far from linked to one another. After all, they play in separate conferences and the fan bases have established far different identities. Nonetheless, there are two quarterbacks in the city of New York.
That does not bode well for Sanchez.
With lack of a better cliche, there is only room for one big contract quarterback in New York—and that is without question Eli Manning. With two Super Bowl wins, and constructing late drives in both of them to win the game, Eli Manning has become a football icon in New York.
Although Sanchez stood little chance against the star power of a Manning to begin with, critics will only be tougher as his yearly salary starts to creep closer and closer to that of a Super Bowl MVP.
What must Sanchez do to prove his worth? Win Super Bowls and take over New York City by 2016—which is definitely not likely in the slightest.
Love him or hate him, the New York Jets coach Rex Ryan is one of a kind.
He speaks his mind, makes bold predictions and holds his team to a standard above the rest of the NFL. Of course, his speaking has become a stalwart at times—his predictions of Super Bowl victories come far short and his standards are often never met.
Rex Ryan is a great coach, and I will be clear in saying he is one of the best defensive minds in football. The keyword here is defensive.
Rex Ryan, like a lot of defensive coaches, likes to run a ground-and-pound offense. Although he lets Sanchez air it out at times, the New York Jets are dedicated to running the football—which can be seen through the draft, since they selected another running back rather than another receiver after Stephen Hill.
That offensive strategy hurts Sanchez and his chances at living up to his contract, especially when Sanchez under-performs the majority of the times in which Ryan puts the ball in his hands.
Another note of a defensive coach is the commitment to the defense. The Jets will continue to spend far more money of the defensive side of the ball, leaving Sanchez with few options and little help achieving success at the tune of $58 million.
Tim Tebow is a New York Jet. That is a sentence Mark Sanchez must loath reading in headlines after Tebow was traded from Denver.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Sanchez is a better quarterback than Tebow, but sometimes play on the field is not the most important thing.
Tebow is a media mogul. Cameras are always on him, his name will be seen on more jerseys in the seats than Sanchez's and most importantly there will always be suggestions of a quarterback controversy when Tebow is backing you up. The fans across the nation love Tebow, and that will not change any time soon—unfortunately for Sanchez.
Part of living up to your contract includes the popularity contract. If you are popular and well-liked throughout the media, your performance can suffer a bit without being called out. When one of the most popular faces in sports is behind you in the depth chart, you better believe you will be called out with every chance available.
This is through no fault of his own, but it is an issue Sanchez must take with great cautiousness. New York will love Tebow, and if Sanchez does not come out rolling, living up to his contract will be the least of his worries—keeping his starting job will be the concern.
This is New York—something you have most likely heard whether through movies, music or sports.
The statement has a simple meaning, and it is that there is no place like New York. With success in just about every major sport, stars on every team and one of the largest fan bases in the country, New York is a tough place to survive.
If you perform well enough you will reap the benefits. If you do not, you will be eaten alive by passionate, yet merciless fans.
There is no other city in which it would be harder for Mark Sanchez to live up to his contract. Jets fans are die-hard fans, who accept nothing but winning and will never be shy in letting you hear their boos.
These are the fans that had great numbers at the NFL draft, and booed almost every single pick that wasn't their own. Call it what you will, like it or not, you have to give them credit for being so passionate.
Jets fans are not going to let Sanchez just skate by and collect his payday. Their expectations will always be higher than achievable by the young quarterback.