Another week has passed for the New York Jets, with another frustrating loss to show for it.
You’d think after birthday boy Mark Sanchez failed to complete half his passes for the fifth time this season, maybe, just maybe, the Jets would give off-season prize Tim Tebow a shot. Nope. Just gimmicks, as usual.
I’ve followed this team closely for a long time, and I’d like to believe I’m an understanding guy. Yet, even I’m ready to admit that Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt. This has become a disaster.
When Mike Tannenbaum acquired Tebow, he and Ryan were steadfast in explaining that it was strictly a football move to acquire the aspiring quarterback, even though the Jets already had a young quarterback of their own.
The plan was for Sanchez to remain the starting quarterback, with Tebow as a jack-of-all-trades, all-purpose back who would spell Sanchez at times, but mostly just be a versatile weapon who would keep defenses off-balance.
All of that was predicated on Sanchez playing well, and unfortunately for the Jets, his erratic play has undermined that plan, causing many to wonder why Tim Tebow hasn’t gotten a chance to salvage the Jets offense.
A lot of it could be because of Ryan’s fierce loyalty to Sanchez, but maybe there’s more to it than that.
The language in Tebow’s contract is complicated, as you may recall the Jets found out, when they acquired him from the Denver Broncos. But are the Jets intentionally keeping him sidelined because of it?
It may not be as crazy as it sounds. Jason Fitzgerald of NYJetsCap.com had a great post over the weekend about certain 2013 cap hits that the Jets may be trying to avoid, and Tim Tebow is at the forefront of it. As Jason writes:
Tebow is one of the last remaining players … under the old CBA rookie contract structure. Under the old CBA, 1st round draft picks often had low base value deals … with easily attainable escalators based on playing time. … As a QB drafted in the 1st round those incentives are increased dramatically.
Tebow’s rookie contract had a base value of $9.7125 million with an easily achievable value of $11.25 million based on reaching the standard playing time escalators of either 35% as a rookie or 45% any year thereafter. He unlocked that in 2011 when he played in about 76% of the Broncos offensive snaps.
As a first round QB, he had the potential to turn the contract into a $33 million dollar deal through incentives that would only be realized if he turned out to be the next John Elway. The more realistic number was that the contract would be worth $22.5 million if he developed into a starting QB.
The additional $11.25 million, if earned, would be added onto the backend of Tebow’s 5 year contract in 2013 and 2014. He had two avenues to earn the escalators. If he played in 55% of the snaps in two of his first three seasons (2010-2012) he would earn an additional $5 million in 2013 and $6.25 million in 2014. If he plays in 70% of the snaps in 2013 he earns the full payment in 2014.
Tebow’s current cap number in 2013 is $2,586,875 which includes a guaranteed payment of $1,531,875 that goes to the Denver Broncos as part of the terms of the trade. If Tebow was to earn that escalator his cap charge would balloon to $7,586,875. That is a number the Jets can’t handle next season, considering they owe Sanchez $8.25 million guaranteed next year and a cap charge of over $12.8 million. 2014 is not an issue for the Jets but clearly 2013 is, and maybe that is playing a role in the management of Tebow’s snaps.
Rex Ryan will continue singing the praises of Mark Sanchez, but could Tebow’s playing time incentives be a hidden factor in Sanchez’s job security? Considering how little the Jets hold Sanchez accountable, it’s entirely possible.
Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t look like the Tebow fans eagerly anticipating him taking over as starting quarterback of the New York Jets will get their wish any time soon. Not next week, maybe not ever.
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