Jets say Mark Sanchez will be in mix at quarterback

Mark Sanchez talks to reporters at the Atlantic

Mark Sanchez talks to reporters at the Atlantic Health practice facility in Florham Park, N.J. (May 24, 2012) (Credit: Joe Epstein)

The Jets' decision to draft West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in the second round ultimately could result in incumbent starter Mark Sanchez's release from the team, but that potential departure might not come for quite some time.

Jets first-year general manager John Idzik, who took Smith with the team's second-round pick, was vague about Sanchez's future when he briefed reporters after Smith was drafted, but he and coach Rex Ryan have indicated that Sanchez will be part of the Jets' quarterback competition.

Asked if Sanchez will be with the team when training camp opens in late July, Idzik said: "I look at it one day at a time. You know, I think we all do. It's a daily process. It's whatever measures we can take to bring quality players in, increase competition in every single position, and we're just going to let things play out. We're not going to try to forecast anything or predetermine anything. Just put it out on the field and let it play out."

Idzik said earlier in that briefing that Sanchez will compete with Smith and the team's other quarterbacks -- recently signed veteran David Garrard, Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms.

Ryan said in a post-draft news conference that Sanchez will be in the mix during training camp.

"The competition that we have at the quarterback position, we will be confident at that quarterback position," Ryan said when asked if Sanchez still can be the starter. "I don't think there is any doubt about it. I have confidence in Mark Sanchez. I have confidence in all the guys, and that's just the way it is. That's the truth. I've said it before, we've won lots of games with Mark Sanchez at quarterback."

A person familiar with Sanchez's situation said Sunday that the quarterback is expected to show up at the Jets' training facility Monday to resume his offseason conditioning program. Jets veterans began their offseason training two weeks ago.

Sanchez has shown unmistakable signs of regression the last two seasons. He helped the Jets to an 8-5 record through 13 games in 2011, but the team is 6-13 since, and Sanchez's turnover problem has only gotten worse. He has 52 turnovers combined in the last two seasons and was benched late last season for one game.

McElroy started in his place against San Diego in the team's next-to-last game against the Chargers, but he suffered a concussion and was replaced the following week by Sanchez against the Bills.

Ryan chose McElroy to start over Tebow, fueling speculation that the Jets were ready to part ways with Tebow after one season. But Tebow remains on the roster, and a person familiar with the quarterback's situation said Sunday that there is nothing new to report on any developments regarding his future.

Another reason to keep Sanchez is his contract. He is due to make $8.25 million in 2013, all of it guaranteed. He counts for $12.85 million against the salary cap, more than 10 percent of their $123-million cap. If the Jets release him, they still will owe him his salary and also will have to account for him on the cap.

If Sanchez is released after June 1, the Jets will take a $12.35-million salary-cap hit this year and a $4.8-million charge in 2014.

"Whether it's Mark Sanchez, whether it's D'Brickashaw Ferguson, whoever, I certainly have confidence in all our players," Ryan said. "But I am also a big believer in the competition part. Competition brings the best out of everybody, and I'm sure it will bring the best out of several players."

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