Time for Jets to let go of Mark Sanchez
Welcome to the asylum, Geno. Hope you enjoy the ride.
The Jets continued a dizzying set of quarterback moves Friday night, drafting West Virginia's Geno Smith in the second round and throwing him into an already chaotic situation. All told, the Jets now have six -- count 'em, six -- quarterbacks on the roster.
But now that Smith has been anointed as the Jets' quarterback of the future, there's at least one who has to go.
It's time for the Jets to part ways with Mark Sanchez.
Had it not been for Sanchez's prohibitively expensive contract, the team already might have done away with him. But he's due $8.25 million in guaranteed salary in 2013, and until now, the Jets have behaved as if Sanchez would be back to compete for the starting job.
With Smith now on board, though, there's no more room for Sanchez, who has regressed in stunning fashion the last two seasons after being a part of two teams that went to the AFC Championship Game in his first two years.
The salary-cap hit is a painful $12.35 million this year and $4.8 million next year if the Jets designate Sanchez as a June 1 cut.
But it is time to make the move now, because keeping Sanchez would create a toxic situation in the locker room.
The more logical scenario is to have Smith and recently signed veteran David Garrard compete for the starting job, with Garrard as the fallback in case Smith needs more time to become acclimated to the Jets' system. Three other quarterbacks are on the roster -- Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms -- although Simms won't make it out of training camp.
Tebow is said to have improved his throwing motion after working in the offseason with independent quarterback coach Steve Clarkson, so maybe he's worth keeping as the No. 3 under new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and quarterbacks coach David Lee. At the very least, let him battle it out with Greg McElroy, the returning No. 3.
But Sanchez no longer fits into the mix. With the Darrelle Revis contract saga now in the rearview mirror, just finish off the Sanchez saga. Spend a rebuilding year in salary-cap purgatory, then come out on the other end with a fresh ledger and a chance for first-year general manager John Idzik to continue this onerous rebuilding project.
None of this means, of course, that Smith is a sure thing and the Jets have solved their quarterback problems. Far from it. Smith is one of those boom-or-bust players and you just can't make a comfortable projection heading into his career the way you did last year with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
Smith has been alternately terrific and mediocre at West Virginia, especially in 2012. Terrific in throwing for 656 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions in a 70-63 win over Baylor. Mediocre in throwing for 143 yards, one TD and two picks in a 55-14 home loss to Kansas State. Terrific in a 50-49 home loss to Oklahoma in which he threw for 320 yards, four TDs and two interceptions. And mediocre in a 38-14 loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl with 201 yards and two TDs.
As NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock explains it: "There's a lot of good tape to watch, but there's a lot of bad tape, too. That's what concerns me about him."
But the Jets have seen enough evidence that Smith is the goods, and now Idzik has staked his reputation on the Mountaineers' quarterback.
Idzik now is virtually discounting the possibility that the Jets will wait on either Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M or Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, the two likely stars at the top of next year's draft.
So Idzik had better be right about his evaluation. If not, it's more of the same for a franchise that is still waiting to find the second coming of Joe Namath. Sanchez is the latest evidence of that painful reality.