Jets may keep Mark Sanchez at reduced rate to provide competition
Mark Sanchez’s tenure as a Jet is not over yet as the team and its former first-round pick remain in a status quo relationship this offseason.
The Jets and representatives for Sanchez met this past weekend in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine to discuss the quarterback’s future in green and white. Sanchez, who missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury suffered in preseason, is progressing well with his rehab and should be ready for offseason workouts and minicamp.
A team source spoke to Metro this weekend and said that as of right now, “no decisions [were] made by the team.” The source said the Jets want to see how Sanchez has recovered from shoulder surgery before making a decision on his Jets future.
Another team source said the Jets haven’t closed the door on the possibilities of a restructured contract for Sanchez, who signed a five-year extension in spring 2012. He is due to make $13.1 million this season, but the Jets would clear $8.3 million in cap space if he is cut.
The decision to simply cut Sanchez as he is set to enter his sixth season in New York is not as simple as many Jets fans might want to believe.
Sanchez is two years removed from his most productive season in the NFL. In 2011, he threw for a career-high 3,474 yards and 26 touchdowns in addition to six rushing touchdowns.
Given the relatively weak free agent quarterback market this year, the Jets might seriously consider bringing Sanchez back at a reduced rate. He was ahead of rookie Geno Smith in the quarterback competition last year before his injury and sources at the time told Metro that Sanchez was set to win the starting job for Week 1.
The Jets have not given a ringing endorsement to Smith, who was erratic during his rookie year, though he closed strong with an efficient final month. Yet the Jets have made it clear that they will look to provide competition for their raw quarterback prospect.
If Sanchez recovers from the shoulder injury which cost him all of last season, he certainly would be more than just competition for Smith and could well put forward a strong statement in training camp.
Whether Sanchez makes it that far remains to be seen, as the prospects of clearing salary cap space might be too tempting for management.
“[It is] highly unlikely that Mark returns to the Jets at this point,” said one league source familiar with the thinking of Jets management and general manager John Idzik. “Everything is pointing in that direction. And if he did, certainly not at the cap number.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.