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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Will the Lions start Stafford in Week 1?

Even though training camp is still over a month away, the talk in Detroit right now is whether or not the Lions should start rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford in Week 1 of the regular season.

Before we debate this topic, let’s get something out of the way first because I know there’s a commenter out there who just can’t wait to throw out this boring, overused statement: It’s way too early to know whether or not Stafford should start Week 1 considering it’s only June and we haven’t seen him take one snap against live action (either in practice or preseason).

But I’m going to throw the topic out there anyway because it takes the sting out of knowing that the NFL season is still light years away. So save all of your, “It’s way too early to tell,” comments and tuck them under your pillow to be used at another time.

There will be two names that some Lions fans will throw out there when making the argument that Stafford should start as a rookie: Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. If Ryan and Flacco could respectively lead the Falcons and Ravens to the playoffs, why couldn’t Stafford do the same with the Lie-Downs?

The difference is that Ryan and Flacco had help. The Falcons hit a home run with free agent running back Michael Turner, who carried the ball 376 times and helped take the burden off Ryan by opening up lanes in the passing game. Ryan also benefited from having a solid receiver corps (led by Roddy White), as well as an offensive line that overachieved and stayed healthy. Don’t forget that Ryan was also considered one of the most NFL-ready quarterbacks to come out of college in the past couple years.

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Smartest, boldest and scariest offseason NFL moves

Clark Judge of CBSSports.com lists the five smartest, boldest and scariest moves by NFL teams this offseason.

Smartest:
Detroit using the first pick of the draft on a QB
There are a lot of things wrong with Detroit, starting with the automobile industry and the Tigers’ bullpen, but the Lions finally got something right: They picked the best quarterback in the draft. Bad teams need to start rebuilding from the ground up, and the Lions started with the most important position. Smart move. They haven’t had a Pro Bowl quarterback since 1972. There was a lot of talk about Jason Smith or Aaron Curry at the top, but let’s face it: You fix the most glaring hole while you can, and if you have a shot at Matthew Stafford you take it. Daunte Culpepper isn’t the solution; Stafford might be. Let’s find out. Give the Lions credit for doing what they should have done.

Boldest:
Chicago trading for Jay Cutler
The question for me is this: Will Cutler handle the winter winds in Chicago better than he handled this spring’s trade rumors? If not, get ready for more whining. I also want to see who serves as Brandon Marshall. I mean, Eddie Royal. How about Brandon Stokley? I smell trouble. Second City has a lot of third receivers.

Scariest:
Kansas City acquiring Matt Cassel
I know what he did with New England. But that was the Patriots, and tell me where you find Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Richard Seymour and Bill Belichick in the 816 area code. Cassel was surrounded by a raft of talent on the field and on the sidelines in New England, and I’m still looking for that support group here. So he produced a couple of 400-yard passing games and won 10 of 15 starts. That was nice. But I want to see him reproduce it here. OK, I know what you’re thinking: What do the Chiefs have to lose — especially when all they surrendered for Cassel and Vrabel was a second-round draft pick? Try this: They’re paying Cassel $14.65 million in guaranteed salary. If he turns out to be the next Scott Mitchell I know some bean counters in red suits who will demand explanations.

To check out the entire article, click here.

How Cassel fares in Kansas City will be incredibly interesting because of the system he played in New England. Pioli wouldn’t have traded for him if he didn’t believe Cassel couldn’t hack it outside of NE, but it remains to be seen if he isn’t just a product of the Pats’ offensive system. At least he has some weapons around him in Larry Johnson (if he isn’t released, that is) and Dwayne Bowe, although the offensive line is still a work in progress and Tony Gonzalez is now in Atlanta.

Lions sign Matthew Stafford to six-year, $78 million deal

Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports that the Detroit Lions have signed quarterback Matthew Stafford to a six-year, $78 million contract and will select him with the top overall pick in Saturday’s draft. The deal also includes $41.8 million in guaranteed money.

Some scouts and draft pundits don’t feel as though Stafford is a franchise-type quarterback and they might be right. If he were to come out next year, there’s a good chance he would be the third or fourth best quarterback prospect behind Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and/or Tim Tebow.

But the bottom line is that if new GM Martin Mayhew believes that Stafford can lead his team, then he had to take him. The money is ridiculous, but unfortunately that’s the way the rookie salary structure is currently set up. In the end, Mayhew couldn’t be scared off by the contract demands if he felt that Stafford turn the Lions into a winner.

For fans sake, let’s hope this was a football decision above all else, and not an opportunity for William Clay Ford Sr. to sell jerseys, hats and tickets. Hopefully Ford allowed Mayhew to get the player that he wanted or else this is going to be the Matt Millen era all over again. (Okay, well maybe it won’t be that bad, but you get the point.)

Time will only tell if the Lions made the right choice in Stafford. Obviously there are no sure things in the draft, but maybe he can follow in the footsteps of ’08 first round quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. Stafford certainly has the arm strength to make all the passes at the next level and appears to have a good head on his shoulders. The Lions needed a quarterback and they got one.

Hopefully Mayhew got the right one.

Peter King: Stafford is a lock to be a Lion

Matthew StaffordAccording to SI.com’s Peter King, quarterback prospect Matthew Stafford is a lock to become a Detroit Lion.

Busy night. Very busy night, as the Lions and agents for Matthew Stafford moved closer to a deal to make the Georgia quarterback the first pick in Saturday’s NFL’s draft.

I think the financial parameters of a deal will be done in principal by late this afternoon, though it may not be signed for a while because of its complexity. But you can take it to the bank: Stafford’s going to be a Detroit Lion.

Although I wouldn’t rule Aaron Curry out until Roger Goodell reads Stafford’s name for the Lions’ pick Saturday afternoon, Peter King is usually spot on. He has a great relationship with NFL players and front office personnel and I trust his judgment.

Sorry Lions fans.

Or…

Congratulations Lions fans – you (possibly) have your quarterback!

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