With Peyton Manning electing not to come to town, the Jets felt they did the next best thing: sign incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez to a three-year extension.
In a stunning twist quickly after it appeared the Jets weren’t going to land the four-time MVP, they announced a new pact with their young franchise quarterback Friday night. The three-year deal is worth a total of $40.5 million -- $13.5 million per year -- according to a league source.
That means Sanchez now has five years for $58.25 million remaining -- with $20.5 million fully guaranteed -- and his 2012 and 2013 salaries are guaranteed. So in essence, that ensures Sanchez will be Jets’ starting quarterback for at least the next two years and he’ll be 30 years old when his current contract runs out.
"I'm absolutely pleased to be a Jet," Sanchez said on a conference call late Friday night. "My family is ecstatic and now it's time to get to work."
GM Mike Tannenbaum acknowledged the Jets reached out to Manning’s representatives, but said he began discussing a new pact with Sanchez’s camp a few weeks after the season ended. He said they finally reached agreement about 7 p.m. Friday, also adding the deal had nothing to do with trying to lower Sanchez’s cap number to give the Jets salary-cap relief.
“We’ve been working on this now for several weeks,” Tannenbaum said, “and working with the complexities of a new CBA and all those rules and regulations -- cash budgets, cap budgets. It’s a complicated contract like most of them are nowadays. It took a long time. It took several weeks.”
Still, he didn’t deny the Jets were in the Manning Sweepstakes.
“I’m not going to get into the specifics,” Tannenbaum said. “But let’s just say it was something we looked into. We had discussions internally. Again, that’s my charge. We are always going to look into opportunities to improve this team. It’s a responsibility I take seriously and when a first-ballot Hall of Famer quarterback becomes available, you look into it.
“I’m not going to get into the specifics of how many calls or what we did or didn’t do, except say we did look into it. But as we did that, we kept the negotiation process with Mark ongoing and they were great throughout this whole process, and three hours ago we found a landing spot.”
Sanchez said he didn’t hold any ill feelings over the Jets deciding to chase Manning.
“This is a business and the team has an obligation to consider all it’s options,” Sanchez said. “I’m excited that the Jets believed in me and I’m a guy they want to move with in the future. I really didn’t think too much into it.
“I know there are 15, 20 teams that thought the same thing and they have starting quarterbacks who might get upset about the same thing. But honestly I was thrilled that these negotiations were going on and I knew if things played out the right way, that I would be their guy just like they thought in the beginning.
“And that means the world to me.”