Mark Sanchez may have secured his job as the Jets starting quarterback for one more week, but based on his performance over the past two seasons, the Jets would hardly mind upgrading the most important position on the field.
Sanchez’s failures in New York are not strictly based on the team’s success or even his performance this season alone, which warranted the first benching of his career. What is most troubling about Sanchez is that he is still making the same mistakes he did as a rookie.
Yes, Rex Ryan chose to go back to Sanchez last week, and it resulted in their second straight win over the Jaguars, but they did it with a minimal effort from their quarterback. Their go-ahead scoring drive was manufactured by seven runs out of nine plays.
Even if Sanchez finds a way to rebound over the next few weeks and the Jets get back to a .500 or above record, they will want to explore every available options they have, including trading him.
The Bloated Contract
Last March, Sanchez was curiously given an extension (which is perceived to be an apology for the team’s brief flirtation with Peyton Manning) in which he is due $8.25 million in guarantees next season.
More importantly, there is language in the contract that says that the Jets owe Sanchez that money no matter what. If Sanchez is released and signs with another team next season, the Jets still owe him that money, and Sanchez can do the proverbial “double dip.”
Paying a player such an extraordinary amount of money to not play is a very fireable offense for a GM, leaving Mike Tannenbaum with two choices (assuming he remains employed next offseason): He can continue to build the team around Sanchez, a player with whom he has won in the past (the most likely scenario), or he can explore trade options to rid the team of the contract.
What Is His Value?
In short, Sanchez has no real trade value. It would be hard enough to get another team to take him on for free, nevermind getting a team to give up additional resources for the right to overpay him.
If Sanchez's contract is somehow worked out to the point where it is manageable, the Jets would be able to get some quality resources for him.
In 2010, the Broncos gave up two late-round picks and Peyton Hillis for Brady Quinn. Sanchez is not a good quarterback, but he's a heck of a lot better than Brady Quinn ever was, especially at that point in Quinn's career. Sanchez, a higher draft pick than Quinn, has won four road playoff games, and the Jets have proven that he can be a winning player.
However, Sanchez's stock is clearly trending down from his last playoff appearance. If a team wants him to be a starter or at least compete for a job, he could draw as early as a third-round pick. A team looking to boost its quarterback depth would only be interested in parting with a few late-round conditional picks.
But again, this is all assuming that his contract can be worked out.
Finding a Team
To be frank, there are few teams that are waiting in line to pay $8 million for Mark Sanchez to be their quarterback next year. $8 million is starter money, but Sanchez has hardly played like an NFL starter this season and appears to have reached his potential after nearly four years in the NFL.
If the Jets are going to trade him, Sanchez would have to be willing to take a pay cut or waive the guarantee to go to another team. It is also in the realm of possibility that the Jets work out a deal with the other team to split the contract in some way, just like the Jets did with Tebow’s guarantees with the Broncos.
As of now, there are still not many teams that would be so willing to take a chance on Sanchez, even without his contractual baggage. Here are some of the top candidates to possibly be interested in Mark’s services, assuming they find a way to make his contract manageable:
Buffalo Bills: Very low chance the Bills would want to do business with a division rival. Plus, what kind of message would it send to ship off Sanchez to a team the Jets play twice a year?
Arizona Cardinals: Sanchez may be trash to the average Jets fan, but he is treasure to Arizonians after what they have gone through this year.
Minnesota Vikings: Some competition for the struggling Christian Ponder.
In short, it is a virtual certainty that Sanchez will not be traded next offseason.
There is almost no way Sanchez would consider conceding $8 million, even if it meant a chance at another starting gig. Eight million bucks is eight million bucks.
Will Sanchez be the Jets QB in 2013?
If Sanchez’s contract was manageable, the Jets would have no difficulty dealing him to another team to perhaps compete for a starting job. At his worst, Sanchez is the best backup quarterback in football. After all, if Brady Quinn can stay in the NFL as long as he has, Sanchez can do this for another 10 years.
Unfortunately for Jets fans looking for immediate change, they will likely have to endure another season of Sanchez next year.