The draft-day free fall for Geno Smith is over, and a new era of quarterbacks in New York has begun.
Second-round pick or not, the New York Jets' selection of the player widely regarded as the top quarterback in this class all but confirms the fact that the Jets will move on from the quarterback pairing that led them to a dismal 6-10 season.
The selection of Smith will be dissected for months, but only time will tell whether he will pan out as the Jets' quarterback of the future. Meanwhile, the futures of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow remain far form certain as the Jets' already crowded quarterback depth chart adds another body.
What It Means for Mark Sanchez
Just four years ago, nearly to this day, the Jets moved up to the fifth overall spot to draft Sanchez in hopes that he would be the team's second coming of Joe Namath.
Sanchez rode two loaded rosters to AFC Championship Games but has since regressed to the point of no return, at least in the eyes of the Jets. Sanchez has some ability as a thrower, but no quarterback that lacks mental toughness and leads the league in turnovers will survive in the NFL.
Cutting Sanchez would result in a $17 million cap penalty, which was simply too much to digest for the cap-strapped Jets. However, light free-agency spending and careful restructuring have left the Jets with $12,414,474 of cap room (via OvertheCap.com).
On Friday, the Jets restructured tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson's contract to save more than $5 million (per The Star-Ledger), which not-so-coincidentally adds up to give the Jets enough cap room to cut Sanchez. The Jets could also use the "June cuts" rule for Sanchez, which allows them to split Sanchez's cap hit over two seasons.
Bottom line: The Jets have too many quarterbacks, and they are making all of the necessary moves to get Sanchez out of town. Doing so would not only make the quarterback situation less muddy, but it would, in addition to the Darrelle Revis trade, signify a new era of Jets football.
What It Means for Tim Tebow
The fact that Tebow is still on the roster is a surprise in itself. After all, when Tebow hit the trade market last spring, only the Jaguars were in competition for his services, and they have since declared their lack of interest in the polarizing backup.
It is impossible to blame Tebow for the Jets' failures in 2012, but he was ineffective in his Wildcat packages and did nothing to convince coaches that he could develop into a "real quarterback." After all, what are the odds that Rex Ryan waited until Tebow was out with a rib injury before benching Sanchez?
By no fault of his own, Tebow has developed into an unusual distraction that makes him more trouble than he is worth. It is unlikely that Tebow would generate any trade interest, which points to his release soon after the draft.
If Tebow is, in fact, released from the Jets, he would have a hard time finding a job in the league as a quarterback even with his immense popularity.
Geno Smith is far from a sure thing as a prospect, and we will have to wait and see if he can be the Jets' franchise quarterback. Nevertheless, selecting Smith opens the door for the Jets to move on from what was one of the worst pairs of quarterbacks in pro football.