Now that the New York Jets have selected West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in the second-round of the 2013 NFL draft, the team will consider releasing incumbent starter Mark Sanchez, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.
Former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum moved up to the No. 5 pick of the 2009 NFL draft to select Sanchez, who was the quarterback of teams that advanced to the AFC championship game in each of his first two seasons in the NFL. However, despite that team success, Sanchez's completion percentage was mired in the low fifties and he tossed more interceptions (33) than touchdown passes (29). Sanchez's numbers improved slightly in 2011, but he took a step backwards in 2012 when he was confronted with competition from Tim Tebow and was ultimately benched in favor of 2011 seventh-round pick Greg McElroy.
Releasing Sanchez would have significant ramifications on the Jets' cash budget and salary cap.
In a renegotiated contract signed on March 12, 2012, Sanchez received $19.5 million in fully guaranteed money from the Jets. Part of that guaranteed money comes in the form of a $8.25 million base salary in 2013, which included no offset language. What that means is that if the Jets released Sanchez, they would still owe him the full amount of that $8.25 million to play elsewhere next season.
From a salary cap standpoint, an outright release would result in the prorated amounts from his previous signing bonuses to accelerate onto the Jets' 2013 cap. Combined with the $8.25 million in fully guaranteed base salary, Sanchez's cap imprint would go from $12.853 million to $17.153 million, a $4.3 million increase. As "Shutdown Corner" reported on Friday, the Jets opened up $5.128 million in cap space by restructuring the contract of left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and now have around $12.4 million in available cap space in 2013.
If the Jets do release Sanchez, another option for them would be to designate Sanchez as a "post-June 1" release, which would allow the team to split the $17.153 million in "dead money" over the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Sanchez's cap hit would decrease to $12.353 million for 2013, but he would still count $4.8 million against the team's 2014 cap.
The Jets now have six quarterbacks on the roster. In addition to Sanchez, Smith, Tebow and McElroy, the Jets have veteran David Garrard and first-year quarterback Matt Simms. Considering that the Jets would have to pay Sanchez $8.25 million either way, and that Smith may not be ready to start right away, a more likely scenario would have them keeping Sanchez and releasing Tebow, which would only amount to a cash and cap hit of $1.532 million this season.