It would appear that everyone around the New York Jets believes the Mark Sanchez era is over except for, well, Mark Sanchez. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Sanchez made it clear that he not only hopes to stay with the Jets next season, but to start for them. While I admire Sanchez’s determination and commitment, there is a zero percent chance that happens.
Sanchez is due $13.1 million next season, and the Jets have no intentions of having that figure on their cap. If they release Sanchez, the dead money on the cap is a much more palatable $4.8 million, giving the Jets the flexibility they need to improve their wide receiving corps, secondary and pass rush in free agency.
Sanchez began his Jets career with two straight AFC Championship game appearances, but his inaccurate passing and high turnover rate led the Jets to draft Geno Smith this season (who of course has the same problems, but that’s another story). When Sanchez suffered a preseason shoulder injury, it became apparent that his career with the Jets was over. Sanchez never lived up to his status as the 5th overall pick, and his failure is the biggest reason former GM Mike Tannenbaum was fired after last season.
The Jets do not know if Smith is the answer to their quarterback problems yet, but they certainly know that Sanchez isn’t. The Jets need all the salary cap space they can get to begin filling the holes on their roster, and they will not pay a backup quarterback anything close to the kind of money Sanchez is owed. His inevitable release is just part of the business of the NFL, and he should not have much trouble finding a team willing to take a chance on him. Sanchez will not be given a guaranteed starting job, but there are several teams that could be interested in bringing him in as part of an open competition.
For the Jets, they hope that Smith can prove to be the long term answer at quarterback, although that is far from certain. This franchise has been snake bitten in their attempts to find a star QB, and Sanchez is their latest failure. Whether or not he wants to stay will not matter because he is a major bust, and the Jets will certainly move on after this season.