If Sanchez was truly the future, Rex Ryan would have never have had to pull him just to beat a team led by Ryan Lindley. Rex Ryan is now distancing himself from Mark Sanchez, declaring that he does not believe his future is tied to the fate of his starting quarterback (via the Star-Ledger).
No matter what the Jets say over the next month, the Jets have clearly lost faith in his ability to be a franchise quarterback.
Assuming Mike Tannenbaum is still in charge of the Jets personnel this offseason, he will have several options to consider regarding who should assume the role of the most important position on the field.
Sticking With Mark Sanchez
There are two factors that are in Mark Sanchez’s favor to be the starter next season. For one, he has four games to prove that he is a changed player since getting benched. The Jets have seen everything Mark Sanchez has to offer as a quarterback, but they have not seen him react to a benching.
Most importantly, Sanchez is due $8.25 million dollars in guarantees next season. Also working in Mark’s favor is that the Jets owe him that money even if they cut him and he signs with another team. Theoretically, if Sanchez is cut and becomes a backup for $2 million or so, he could make over $10 million to hold a clipboard and chart plays for some other team.
This contract alone could keep Sanchez in New York for one more season, because no owner wants to pay players to play for other teams. If Tannenbaum stays, he will likely roll the dice on Sanchez for one more season and use his other resources and picks to help the team in other areas.
If the man is on the verge of getting fired anyway, there is no time to start over with a new quarterback just a few months after overpaying for one. It is in Tannenbaum’s best interest to use all of his resources to help the team win now and hope that it can repeat its success from 2009 and 2010.
After all, the Jets have had success with Sanchez in the past. What’s to say he can’t repeat that success?
While Tebow and Greg McElroy are the most popular Jets among the fanbase, neither of them makes sense for the Jets in the long run.
The Jets clearly have no interest in making Tebow the full-time starter, and I can hardly blame them. It is difficult to build an offense around late-game miracles and fourth-quarter comebacks.
Greg McElroy made a few plays to win the game against the Cardinals, but a lot of that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. He hardly did anything spectacular and it is not uncommon for the entire team to get a jolt of energy when a backup comes in. He may be able to start for the rest of the season if Sanchez falls on his face, but giving him the keys to the franchise is a risky proposition.
The 2013 free agent quarterback class is far from inspiring. Joe Flacco tops the list, but does anyone really expect the Ravens to let him get away? Other than him, the Jets can pick from the likes of Jason Campbell, Matt Moore and Tarvaris Jackson.
All of them are serviceable backups and are capable of winning games, but they would hardly be upgrades over Mark Sanchez, and they offer little upside.
They could trade for a player like Matt Flynn, but he is largely unproven and would be a big hit on the Jets' tight salary cap. He is set to make $12 million over the next two years with $2 million of that money guaranteed.
Adding Flynn would make the Jets pay elite quarterback money for two mediocre starters, which would prevent them from upgrading an offense that is starving for talent at the skill positions.
Options through the Draft
It is not a great year to be in the quarterback market this April. Many top prospects have fallen off during the course of the college football season. Matt Barkley, Logan Thomas and even Tyler Wilson have taken significant hits to their draft stock.
The slim pickings in free agency only increase the competition for the few remaining elite prospects.
Assuming the Jets end up in the seven-to-nine wins ballpark, they will be picking anywhere from 10-to-16. Unless the Jets are open to trading up, which would involve selling part of their soul, the top passers in Geno Smith and Tyler Wilson will not be available. Teams like Kansas City and Jacksonville will scoop them up and will hardly be interested in trading out of their top pick.
However, there is a chance that USC’s Matt Barkley will still be available. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Barkley could fall well past the Jets pick:
However, there is a reason why Barkley has fallen so far. USC’s offense has taken huge steps back this year, exposing Barkley as a beneficiary of talent as opposed to being a truly elite prospect. He has not been able to overcome USC’s offensive line issues. Plus, it would be tough for the Jets and the entire fanbase to stomach another USC quarterback that is laced with bust potential.
Of course, there are more quarterbacks in the draft besides the big-name first-round prospects. NC State’s Mike Glennon is an intriguing prospect that can be had beyond the first round.
Glennon is a big, tough, mobile guy with a strong arm and a knack for game management, but he struggles with ball placement and footwork and he tends to stare down receivers. Basically, he’s a less-polished version of Greg McElroy with more upside. Based on how over-drafted quarterbacks are nowadays, he could go as early as the second round.
If the Jets do decide to take a chance on Glennon, it would be unwise to throw him to the wolves and start him in his first year. Glennon is a player who can sit behind Sanchez and learn, but I doubt Sanchez would be so willing to teach someone else how to take his job. There is also the factor that this would require another year with a lame-duck Sanchez at the helm, which hardly inspires season ticket sales.
Who will be the Jets' starting QB next season?
The more and more this is topic is discussed, the more apparent it becomes that Sanchez just seems like the most logical candidate to be the starter next season, especially if Mike Tannenbaum retains his job. Not only is he due a lot of money, but the Jets' tight cap situation prevents them from spending in a slim free agent class and they have few options in the draft that would give them a starting quarterback right away.
The only hope for the Jets to move on from Sanchez is to hire a new general manager who will undoubtedly want to bring in his own signal-caller. This may seem like the perfect solution, but a new GM usually means a new head coach within due time. Generally, the clock does not start ticking on a GM’s tenure until he gets to hire his own coach.
Rex Ryan, for all of his faults, is an excellent talent-maximizer and defensive play-caller. Firing him would come at a dear price, and waiting a season for Sanchez to play out his final guaranteed dollars may be worth it.