Five biggest questions facing the Jets in the offseason
BUFFALO -- The Jets lost, 28-9, Sunday to the Bills.
But the outcome of the game matters little in the grand scheme of things. There are plenty of changes to come in the offseason and these are just a few of them:
Will the Jets cut ties with Mark Sanchez?
It's no secret the fourth-year quarterback regressed this season. But owner Woody Johnson's hands may be tied.
Having signed Sanchez in March to a contract extension that guarantees him $8.25 million in 2013, the Jets can't just cut him loose. The team is open to trading their former first-round pick. But first, another NFL team must consider Sanchez a worthwhile acquisition. Some experts say the best thing for him is to be a backup somewhere far, far away from the media glare in New York. But, again, it all depends on how much of a market there is for him. But if Sanchez is a Jet in 2013, a roster spot won't necessarily guarantee him the starting gig. The Jets could bring in another veteran quarterback and/or draft a quarterback in April and then hold a training camp competition.
Will the Jets have a new coordinator for a second straight season?
It sure looks that way.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported yesterday that Tony Sparano will be let go. His dismissal would come as no surprise considering the Jets' offense ranked 30th in the league entering yesterday's finale. To be fair, Sparano has had a full complement of healthy receivers once -- in Week 1. But Rex Ryan touted him as a guru of the ground-and-pound and a Wildcat expert. Unfortunately for Sparano, the Jets' running game was slow to gain traction and the Wildcat . . . well, that was a massive disappointment. That's probably just as much of an indictment of Tim Tebow as it is Sparano. But the fact that the offensive coordinator couldn't figure out some way of incorporating Tebow effectively into the offense was surprising.
Where will Tebowmania go next?
In October, Johnson predicted Tebow would be a Jet for three years. But earlier this month, a source confirmed the team was also open to trading or releasing the quarterback.
The Jets sent fourth- and sixth-round draft picks to Denver for Tebow and a seventh-round pick in March and committed $3.6 million (including a $2-million payout to the Broncos) for his services. Unfortunately, his Jets tenure was void of any Tebowing in the end zone. Tebow's totals for the season: 6 completions in 8 passing attempts for 39 yards and 32 carries for 102 yards. Ultimately, he was more of a distraction than any sort of threat on the field.
The Jaguars reportedly are interested in bringing Tebow, a Jacksonville, Fla., native, back home. There also is speculation Johnson could hire a new general manager who thinks Tebow is a good fit. But if the past 17 weeks have taught us anything, it's that both Tebow and Sanchez could benefit from some space apart.
Are Mike Tannenbaum's days as a GM numbered?
Johnson has already put feelers out, surveying the field of prospective candidates. But it's highly possible Johnson keeps Tannenbaum (considered a salary-cap guru) in the organization and strips him of his general manager title.
The owner reportedly sought the counsel of executive search firm Korn/Ferry International to assess the situation, the same company that helped the Jets find new president Neil Glat. This, of course, could lead to Tannenbaum's departure. He hasn't consistently brought in top-notch draft talent during the Rex Ryan Era.
Which free agents will the Jets keep?
Expect the Jets defense to look vastly different. Free agent LaRon Landry, who received his first Pro Bowl nod last week, likely won't be back given the amount of money he'll command this offseason. It's also unclear whether fellow safety Yeremiah Bell, who also signed a one-year deal, will be back.
It's all but certain Bart Scott, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas (the longest tenured Jet) have played their final games under Ryan. Plus, Mike DeVito, who had a stellar season in Ryan's defense, is expected to leave.
Johnson and his general manager, whoever he might be, also must figure out what to do with Dustin Keller. The tight end had a poor season because he couldn't stay healthy.