Jets take West Virginia QB Geno Smith in second round of NFL draft
Four years after drafting Mark Sanchez to be the face of their franchise, the Jets snagged a new quarterback on Day 2 of the NFL draft: Geno Smith.
The former West Virginia quarterback expected to be a first-round pick Thursday night but fell all the way to No. 39 -- right into the lap of the Jets.
General manager John Idzik delicately danced around the topic of Sanchez's future, giving no assurances about the quarterback's role for 2013 or his future with the team.
"What this means for Mark is competition," Idzik said of Smith's arrival, though he wouldn't guarantee that Sanchez will be present for OTAs, minicamp or training camp.
Sanchez, who has had 52 turnovers in the past two seasons, will earn a guaranteed $8.25 million in 2013 -- a salary that has significantly handcuffed the team's fiscal flexibility this offseason. Worse, his current $12.8-million cap number reportedly will inflate to $17.1 million if he's cut before June 1.
Though it's long been assumed that Tim Tebow will be released or traded before training camp, there's mounting speculation that Sanchez also could be history.
A source familiar with Sanchez's situation doesn't expect the Jets to part with the fifth-year quarterback. But Idzik's noncommittal answers left the door open for Sanchez to be cut before the season. If he's released on June 1, his cap charge can be spread out over 2013 and 2014.
Idzik, however, provided no insight into the Jets' plans for Sanchez. The GM also tempered expectations for his newest quarterback, saying simply: "Our plan for Geno is to compete.''
Smith said the Jets didn't guarantee him the starting gig. "The only thing they guaranteed,'' he said on a conference call, "was that I was going to be a Jet today."
But Smith, who was announced by Hofstra alum and former Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet, has every intention of winning the job and reaching the postseason. "We're going to the playoffs next year," he said. "I'm going to do my best to better my teammates and to hopefully win a Super Bowl."
Said Rex Ryan with a laugh: "I hope he's right."
In all, the Jets have six quarterbacks on the roster -- though Idzik cracked: "We're actually going to add two or three more."
Idzik said he didn't alert Sanchez before the Smith pick and insisted that Sanchez has known all along that "we've made competition a hallmark here."
College scouting director Jeff Bauer said the Jets had "very high grades" on Smith and senior personnel executive Terry Bradway touted the former Mountaineer's arm, talent, accuracy and mobility. But Idzik is keeping his plan for Smith -- and Sanchez -- under wraps.
"We're just going to let things play out,'' he said. "We're not going to try to forecast things."
A day after focusing solely on defense -- cornerback Dee Milliner ninth overall and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson 13th -- the Jets addressed their offensive needs by taking Smith and Kent State offensive lineman Brian Winters (72nd overall) and trading a fourth-round pick to the Saints for running back Chris Ivory.
"We feel like we've added quality players," Idzik said. " . . . They're aggressive, physical, love the game of football and play like a Jet."
Winters was a left tackle in college but is expected to slide inside to guard.
The Jets have been interested in Ivory, 25, for some time but weren't willing to sign the restricted free agent to an offer sheet because they didn't want to part with their second-round pick. But Friday night, they got the man they wanted.
Idzik called Ivory "a physical, violent runner," adding "he plays with attitude."