With the news that the New York Jets have officially named Geno Smith the starting quarterback, many have argued the time is right to cut incumbent starter Mark Sanchez. This, however, would be a rash decision that is not in the best interest of the Jets. Sanchez will certainly not be with the Jets next season, but there are still several reasons he should stay for this one.
The first and most obvious one is money. Sanchez is due $8.25 million this season, fully guaranteed. If Sanchez stays on the roster, his cap hit is $12.85 million, but it jumps to $17.15 million if he is cut. So there are two issues here.
First, the Jets would be paying Sanchez $8.25 million to play for another team, or to sit out the season. Essentially setting more than $8 million on fire doesn’t seem like Woody Johnson‘s style. Secondly, cutting Sanchez costs the Jets roughly $4.3 million in cap space, which leaves them with no money to spend on injury replacements or waiver claims in the season.
From a football standpoint, Sanchez is the best quarterback on the roster. It may be sad but true, however, it is still an undeniable fact. Smith may develop quickly or he may not, but having Sanchez around in case the latter happens is a good idea. Smith could also get hurt, and putting Brady Quinn or Matt Simms in isn’t a very good plan.
Sanchez is also a better mentor to Smith and Simms than Quinn, as Sanchez has had significantly more success in his career, and he is obviously far more familiar with the coaching staff and players in the locker room. Sanchez also knows what it’s like to feel the media and fan pressure of being anointed the franchise savior of the New York Jets, and his advice to Smith on how to handle these pressures is invaluable.
Now, Sanchez could of course choose not to help Smith at all and sulk through this season on the sideline. However, Sanchez doesn’t seem like that kind of guy. He is very popular with his teammates, and he seemed willing to help Smith throughout the preseason. Obviously, these are just observations from a distance, but I think Sanchez’ presence would help Smith much more than it would hurt him.
Cutting Sanchez would be bad business from a team that is cap conscious, and that in and of itself will probably keep him on the roster (get the trade idea out of your head, it won’t happen). However, the football and locker room reasons are more than enough cause to retain Sanchez for this season as the team figures out what Smith is actually capable of.
Sanchez can and will be cut next offseason, but the smart move for the Jets is to wait until then to do it.