Jets may quickly regret signing March Sanchez long-term

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.

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