The news about Mark Sanchez’s contract extension broke on Friday night. While Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets organization are towing the company line, ‘We believe in Mark’, money was a major factor behind this move.
This upcoming season was supposed to be a make or break year for Sanchez. New offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was brought into implement a run first mentality and the team was going to upgrade their protection and receiving core. With only two years left on Sanchez’s rookie contract 2013 would be decision time for the Jets, extend him or cut ties and move on.
Sanchez’s old contract would have counted $14.25 million in 2012 and $8.5 million in 2013, totaling $22.75 million for both years. Most of this money was not guaranteed so Sanchez was vulnerable to being released. Looking at the Jets situation they needed to get some kind of salary cap relief from him but instead of playing ‘hardball’ they throw a ‘meatball’.
The Jets did not want to threaten Sanchez with release to get a renegotiated contract since they would be vilified if that actually occurred. Letting go a number five overall draft pick after investing $30 million in him would have meant disgrace for the front office, so the Jets took the easy road.
In Sanchez’s new contract the Jets guaranteed his 2012 and 2013 salary totaling $20.5 million. The details are not completely known yet but it is thought that Sanchez will count much less on the 2012 salary cap. This contract has also guaranteed he’ll be the starter in 2013, because he can no longer be cut in that year.
Would the Jets have made this move if they were not in such a dire salary cap position? Does Sanchez deserve this vote of confidence at this point in his career or have they simple made a risky maneuver to free up resources?
The team has hitched their wagon to Sanchez for at least two more years and has gotten some relief in the process. They will have no leverage over him moving forward, so hopefully Sanchez will develop and be the quarterback for years to come but if he regresses in 2012, what do you do in 2013?