How the Mark Sanchez Extension Affects the Jets’ Offseason

Story posted March 19, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio, NFL Draft by Justin Rocke



Photo 2012nfloffseason garafolo manningdestinations
The New York Jets decided to give Mark Sanchez a vote of confidence with his recent contract extension

Late Friday evening the New York Jets and quarterback Mark Sanchez agreed on a three-year contract extension through the 2016 season. The contract guarantees the quarterback $20.5 million, and the $58.25 million deal makes Sanchez the seventh-highest paid quarterback in the NFL.

The bigger question for the Jets is how this extension affects their plans moving forward.

Sanchez, the fifth overall from the 2009 draft, has been far from spectacular during his time wearing the green and white. It is true that he has tied the NFL record for road playoff victories in his three year career with four and has seen his passing yardage and touchdown passes steadily increase. But the scrutiny of his play by the media and fans in New York has put into question his future with the team.

The Jets have been right in the middle of the conversation about former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning's future. Sanchez's struggles led to speculation that Manning could land in New York immediately after it was learned that the Colts would part ways with the future Hall-of-Famer. And several mock drafts had the Jets looking at quarterbacks like Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Arizona State's Brock Osweiler.

Despite the rumors, head coach Rex Ryan and the Jets front office decided to stick with their guy. And with Sanchez being extended, Manning is no longer a possibility in New York.

If the 25-year old Sanchez plays out the length of his contract, he will not be a free agent until he is 30. He is still coming into his prime and will be playing under a new offensive coordinator this season, as the Jets parted ways with Brian Schottenheimer and hired former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano to replace him. Sanchez will also spend this season looking to rekindle his relationship with wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who felt he was not getting the ball enough towards the end of 2011.

With the extension the Jets can focus more on improving the talent around Sanchez this offseason as opposed to finding his successor. The Jets may still draft a quarterback in the middle to late rounds to challenge Sanchez, who has been backed up by an aging Mark Brunell the past two seasons, but the team will now focus on more glaring team needs.

Look for the Jets to try and build around Sanchez offensively. With Sanchez now comfortably in the fold and Plaxico Burress not expected to be resigned as a free agent, the Jets will try to improve their receiving corps by possibly going after wide receivers Michael Floyd or Kendall Wright in the first round. They may even look at Brian Quick from Appalachian State in the middle rounds. They could very well bite on running back Trent Richardson to aid Shonn Greene and the running game if he falls to them at 16.

Also, with Sanchez now locked up long term, look for the Jets to improve their offensive line. Despite having Pro Bowl-caliber stars like D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold spearheading the front five, Sanchez was sacked 39 times last season, the fifth most in the NFL. It is very possible the Jets look to draft someone like Levy Adcock from Oklahoma State in the middle rounds to challenge Wayne Hunter and the other weak spots on the Jets line.

The Sanchez signing also takes the Jets out of the Peyton Manning chase and allows the Jets to spend their money this offseason building up a defense that needs pass rush and safety help as well looking to improve their receivers and offensive line.   

Most importantly, however, this deal shows Sanchez that the Jets are committed to him. In a city like New York, where rumors fly and players go in and out of favor daily, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and Ryan have invested in Sanchez’s improvement and maturity.

With a new offensive coordinator and the extension boosting Sanchez’s confidence, the quarterback can now focus on his development going into his fourth year, while the Jets can now focus on improving the team around him with the draft and free agency period ahead.

Justin Rocke is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email him at jmr5829@psu.edu.