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The New York Jets will not pursue former Colts great Peyton Manning, as the team gave its starting quarterback of the last three years, Mark Sanchez, a three year contract extension on Friday night. Sanchez’s contract will be worth $58.25 million, making him the seventh-highest paid quarterback in all of the NFL. He is guaranteed $20.5 million combined through 2012 and 2013.
“The best part about it is, they chose to stick with me,” said Sanchez. “I’m going to be their starting quarterback for the next few years and that’s exciting.
“I’m the leader of this team and I’m excited to get back.”
Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum stated that the decision to extend Sanchez was made after the season ended, despite leaving the door open recently on a possible change at the position when asked about any potential interest in bringing in Manning. Sanchez previously had two years remaining on his rookie contract, but they did not include any guaranteed money.
New York completed a three game losing streak in Miami in Week 17 to end the season at 8-8, preventing them from making their third consecutive playoff appearance with Sanchez under center. The ensuing result during the offseason was heavy criticism of the 25-year-old, which came in the form of negative remarks from several unnamed teammates concerning his talent level and mental makeup.
Sanchez led the Jets into back-to-back AFC title games in his first two seasons and losses in these were his only two in six career playoff games. All four of his post-season wins were impressive for a young quarterback, considering that they all came on the road in hostile environments against elite quarterbacks – Carson Palmer in Cincinnati, Philip Rivers in San Diego, Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, and clearly the most extraordinary victory, Tom Brady in Foxboro.
Sanchez showed flashes of brilliance in 2011 with a career high 26 touchdown passes, but a career high with an equal amount of turnovers left him looking like a split personality quarterback at times.
Jets fans moaned for years that former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s quick passing, mainly horizontal air attack was the central factor that prohibited Sanchez from ever reaching his full potential as a quarterback. It did not allow Sanchez to take very many shots down the field, which drastically limited the Jets offense while also holding back his necessary progression at the position.
Jets management finally felt that it was time to make a change at the offensive helm, and thusly fired Schottenheimer this offseason. They then hired former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano to replace him. Sparano was the head man in Miami for the past three plus seasons.
Time will prove if the coaching alteration will get Sanchez to the place that he, the Jets, and their fans believe he is more than capable of getting to. “We’ve won a lot of football games with Mark as the starting quarterback of the New York Jets and that’s what really concerned us,” said Tannenbaum. “It’s not a projection, it’s not a hope, it’s not an incremental leap of faith. Here’s a three year body of work.
“That said, we don’t have blinders on. It has to get better and it will get better. We think he’ll become more consistent. Taking a long view of things, we’re excited and encouraged by the trajectory of Mark’s career.”
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/