The mess that is the New York Jets is either one step closer to being cleaned up or getting a whole lot more tangled. On Friday night, the Jets announced a three-year contract extension with quarterback Mark Sanchez, waving a white flag in their pursuit of Peyton Manning on the free-agent market.
The long-term deal for Sanchez, who led the Jets to two AFC championship games in his first two NFL seasons, comes after a rocky 8-8 campaign where the young quarterback struggled. It got so bad that midway through the season, star wide receiver Santonio Holmes called Sanchez and his offensive teammates out after a lackluster offensive performance in Baltimore against the Ravens. The acrimony between the two seemed to continue as Holmes was benched in the regular-season finale after getting into an on-the-field fight with his teammates. Holmes has often been suspected as being one of the anonymous sources within the Jets' locker room who has been speaking of dissension in the ranks.
Sanchez said that the air has been cleared between the two.
"We've been in contact really this whole offseason. A bigger deal was made out of that than was needed to be, but that's OK. With neither of us commenting on that it got bigger — we've kind of laughed that off at this point now, weeks ago. I've been down to see him," Sanchez said.
"We've been in contact. I know he's in Africa doing charity work now, but I know he's excited about next season."
The reports of player discontent with Sanchez began to leak out several days after the Jets season ended, with the anonymous source calling Sanchez "coddled" and saying that the young quarterback was "lazy." Recently, the source told the media that the Jets offense would welcome a potential Manning arrival.
Sanchez, who usually tiptoes around sticky issues, was quite clear about what he thought about those comments.
"If you're an unnamed source, you don't speak for yourself, and therefore you don't really speak for your team," Sanchez said.
"I didn't really pay it any mind. There were plenty of guys like Nick Mangold and Dustin Keller who didn't need to but went on the radio and stuff to defend my position. They defended me because they knew how hard I work and how much I care about this team and my fellow teammates. That's something that's not really non-issues and I didn't really worry about it."
Two sources within the Jets locker room have told Yahoo! Sports that Sanchez is "certainly not lazy." One went so far as to say that the team's coaches "definitely do not take it easy on him. He gets his fair share of criticism behind closed doors."
Not surprisingly, Sanchez also took exception to the idea that he is treated with kid-gloves.
"When people say I'm coddled I wish they could just sit in a meeting after I haven't played my best or I threw a few interceptions," Sanchez said.
"There's nothing close to coddling going on in there. At times it's rough and I wish they could see that."
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- Mark Sanchez
- Santonio Holmes