2013 Cap Hit – Sanchez: $12,853,125; Smith: $912,655
Amount Remaining on Salary – Sanchez: $40,475,000 ($19,250,000 guaranteed); Smith: $5,019,603 ($3,068,784 guaranteed)
Although this will get plenty of national media coverage, the battle between New York Jets quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith for the starting job may not be the most interesting storyline to a diehard football fan. However, there is much at stake cap-wise. Mark Sanchez, much lamented for his performance as a starter in 2012 (attributed to the “butt-fumble” and beyond), still could be a viable option as a starter this year. While Rex Ryan has shown in past and present press conferences to have an inexplicable fondness for the beleaguered Sanchez, if the Jets wish, they can have him off the books by the end of the season. Why not give him a shot at the beginning of the season to attempt to recreate some of the magic from his back-to-back AFC championship game appearances (2010-2011, albeit surrounded by a more talented roster)?
The Jets can however wait on Geno Smith. Thanks to both the new CBA and Geno’s plummet to the second round in the 2013 NFL Draft, Geno has a very team-friendly contract, so the Jets can afford to let him study the game in a backup role. Additionally, contrary to the wave of young quarterbacks that have set the league on fire in the last few years (Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and, to a lesser extent, Andy Dalton), Smith is considerably less polished coming into the league. It does not seem to be beneficial to throw him under fire amidst the circus that is the New York Jets. In my opinion, the Jets should give him time to study and observe from the sideline. For the time being, keep Sanchez on the field until it becomes unbearable (I would say at least 5 weeks). It could not go worse than it did last year. Sorry Jets fans, that’s as optimistic as I could get.
Due to the impatience of the Jets’ fan base and organization, however, Geno Smith could start as soon as Week One. Rex Ryan could be, after all, coaching for his job.