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Jets wise to create competition for Mark Sanchez

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow reaches for an outstretched hand entering the field to play the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 1, 2012 in Denver. UPI/Gary C. Caskey

Tim Tebow might not be able to hit the ocean if he threw a rock while standing on shore. But he certainly serves a purpose for the New York Jets.

Some have criticized the Jets for parting with 2012 fourth and sixth round picks to acquire a quarterback in Tebow, who isn’t really a quarterback at all. From a passing efficiency standpoint, Tebow ranked among the league’s worst passers in 2011 at ProFootballFocus.com. But the Jets don’t need him to be Peyton Manning to benefit from the trade. In fact, they’re already benefiting from the deal.

The Jets made a mistake by signing Mark Sanchez to a three-year, $40.5 million contract extension last week. The guy hasn’t earned an extension and given his current skill set, he’s not likely to live up to the contract. But at least the Jets didn’t compound the mistake by not finding a backup that wants to compete for the starting job.

Tebow wants to start and if this New York Daily News report is accurate, he believes he can unseat Sanchez as the starter. He’ll push Sanchez from the start, which is something Sanchez has yet to experience since he was drafted in 2009. Even someone lacking in as much self confidence as Sanchez knew that Mark Brunell wasn’t a serious threat to take his job. But Tebow, who despite his lack of passing skills, proved that he can win last year. And the moment he arrives in the Big Apple he’ll put his hand on Sanchez’s shoulder and say, “I’m going to be right here, kind sir.”

No, Tebow isn’t a good passer and he may never become one. But his arrival to New York means that Sanchez will be pushed like he’s never been pushed before. Competition in general is a good thing in sports, and Sanchez is about to receive his stiffest challenge since entering the league. Take Tebow’s lack of quarterback skills out the picture and the Jets did well here.

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Jets may quickly regret signing March Sanchez long-term

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez looks at the scoreboard after throwing an interception against the New York Giants in the fourth quarter during their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey December 24, 2011. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The New York Jets aren’t exactly in an envious position when it comes to their quarterback situation.

They have a guy in Mark Sanchez whom they parted with first and second round selections, as well as players Kenyon Coleman, Abram Elam and Brett Ratliff in order to acquire on draft day in 2009. Since then Sanchez has led them to two AFC title games in the past three years but he hasn’t exactly been Peyton Manning in the regular season.

Oh, and speaking of Manning, the four-time league MVP became available last week when the Colts released him following multiple neck surgeries and before he was due a massive roster bonus. As of this writing, Peyton is still available but you won’t be seeing him in green and white any time soon. That’s because the Jets decided to pass on signing Manning, at least according to owner Woody Johnson. Said Johnson, “We’re signed up with our quarterback. Sanchez is not leaving.”

No, he certainly isn’t. Not after the Jets signed him to a three-year, $40.5 million extension through 2016 after briefly flirting with signing Manning (who, as reported, rebuffed their advances). By committing to Sanchez long-term, I envision the Jets pushing all of their chips into the center of the pile and saying, “All in.” And I don’t like the move.

There will be plenty of people who suggest that former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who was viewed as too conservative and predictable, held Sanchez back the past three seasons. But offensive coordinators are always “too conservative and predictable” when an offense is struggling. I’m not a big fan of Schottenheimer’s playcalling but I think the problem in New York is that he was awfully limited at quarterback.

Has Sanchez played well in the postseason? No question. But the Jets reached the playoffs in 2009 and 2010 almost in spite of their limited quarterback – not because of him. Had it not been for Rex Ryan’s defense and a solid running game, there was no way Sanchez was putting the Jets on his shoulders and willing them to victories. If you disagree, then I wonder how you felt watching the Jets last year when their running game fell apart and the team crumbled under Sanchez’s play.

Teams shouldn’t make it a habit of rewarding quarterbacks that have regressed each year but that’s exactly what the Jets have done by signing Sanchez to an extension. What’s worse is that they’ve settled for complacency at the most important position on the field. Because of this contract extension, the Jets aren’t going to lure many veteran free agents wanting to win a job. And with nobody pushing Sanchez, what’s going to make him reach new heights as a quarterback?

Granted, the final three years allow the Jets to cut Sanchez without taking a massive cap hit. But for the next two seasons he’ll make big-time quarterback money and the problem is that he isn’t a big-time quarterback. Instead of restructuring his current deal, the Jets should have concentrated on creating competition at the position by bringing in a veteran starter. Now they’re committed to “Sanchise” for at least another two years and that, my friends, is a risk that probably wasn’t worth taking.

Jets sign Mark Sanchez to five-year, $50 million contract

The Jets reached a deal with No. 5 overall pick Mark Sanchez on Wednesday night, signing him to a $50 million contract that includes $28 million in guarantees. In comparison, the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft, Matt Ryan, received a six-year, $66 million deal with $34.75 million in guarantees from the Falcons.

Ironically, Sanchez, at least initially, was given more guaranteed money that No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford was. Stafford is only guaranteed $17 million according to this article, and not the $42 million that was initially reported. The rest of the “guaranteed” portion of Stafford’s contract is actually incentive based, which is pretty fair. (Again, this is assuming that the article I linked to is accurate.)

Getting back to Sanchez, he took less short-term money than Ryan in order to hit free agency sooner. The contract also has incentives that could max his deal out at $60 million, which is still a bargain considering the position he plays and how high he was drafted. It’s really a good deal for the Jets and it’s huge that they were able to sign him fast and therefore not have to worry about the threat of a holdout.

Now all Sanchez has to worry about is beating out Kellen Clemens for the starting job. All indications are that Sanchez will get the opportunity to be the starter as a rookie, but word has it that Clemens has looked sharp thus far in practice and isn’t ready to give into the GQ model.

I should note that I’m not in favor of the rookie salary structure in the NFL. Whether it’s a good deal for the Jets or not to have signed Sanchez for that amount of money compared to what he could have made give the day and age we’re in, it’s still absolutely ridiculous that a player who has never taken a snap in the NFL to get that much money. Something has to be done.

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