Mark Sanchez's Hefty Contract Means Jets Fans Are Stuck with Struggling QB

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 02:  Greg McElroy #14 of the New York Jets talks with quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh while teammate Mark Sanchez#6 and Tim Tebow #15 stand by in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals on December 2, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Jets defeated the Arizona Cardinals 7-6.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Rex Ryan's decision to give Mark Sanchez another chance to seize the starting job shouldn't come as a surprise. The New York Jets gave the struggling quarterback a massive contract extension during the offseason, and money talks.

As Jets fans will remember, the team was frequently linked to free-agent legend Peyton Manning. When it became clear he was leaning toward other opportunities, the Jets reacted by signing Sanchez to a new three-year extension.

Rich Cimini of ESPN New York provided the details of the new agreement. As it stands now, the most important part of the deal is the $8.25 million Sanchez is guaranteed to receive next season. Previously, it wasn't a guaranteed year.

Quite simply, that means the Jets are going to give him every opportunity to succeed because they have to pay him that money regardless of what they do under center. It's hard to justify paying a backup that much when the team has so many other holes.

Add in the fact Ryan has remained loyal to Sanchez every step of the way, and it was a virtual lock that he would get back in the starting lineup. It comes despite Greg McElroy's impressive showing in relief duty.

Although it's tough to accept at times, fans should understand that football is still a business. It's the only way to get a firm grasp on the Jets' decision.

Sure, the team will argue it still has an outside chance to make the playoffs and Sanchez has the most experience to lead the way. It's not an argument that holds water, but that's all part of the game.

In a pure football sense, the choice makes very little sense.

Sanchez has been given nearly four full seasons to illustrate what he can do. The results have been discouraging. His quarterback rating has never topped 80, which would just represent an average quarterback, and the team only succeeded when the defense was dominant.

Last season—his best based on QB rating—he accounted for 32 touchdowns, but also 26 turnovers. He has 18 turnovers and just 12 touchdowns so far in 2012. Furthermore, the signs of progress have been few and far between.

When you combine those factors with the fact New York is currently 5-7, there's no reason for keeping McElroy and Tim Tebow out of the mix.

If the Jets were serious about finding out the best course of action moving forward, McElroy and Tebow would both get a fair chance down the stretch to showcase what they can bring to the table. Sanchez has been handed no shortage of opportunities.

It's no guarantee either of them will succeed, of course. However, knowing what Tebow was able to accomplish with the Denver Broncos last season, albeit in an unconventional fashion, and the poise McElroy showed when given a shot, they deserve a chance.

Unfortunately for frustrated Jets fans, they aren't getting it because the Jets are still holding out hope Sanchez will succeed so that $8.25 million isn't a complete waste next season.

The team is giving him a golden opportunity to succeed by leaving him in the starting lineup against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, who sport the league's 31st-ranked defense in yards allowed.

Will Sanchez succeed? Maybe, but one game shouldn't overshadow four seasons of lackluster play even if he does. It would give the Jets the talking points they are looking for, though.

In other words, Jets fans shouldn't hold their breath when it comes to Sanchez getting replaced, even though it would be the right football decision.