Sources: Jets exploring possibilities of parting ways with both Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez

Jason Cole

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In addition to likely parting ways with Tim Tebow in the offseason, the New York Jets are mulling whether to eat more than $8 million in order to cut or trade fellow quarterback Mark Sanchez, according to two sources familiar with the circumstances.

The team’s obvious preference is to get something for Tebow through a trade, but that may be difficult considering how little he has played and the fact that he has now been bypassed by third-stringer Greg McElroy, who will start for New York (6-8) this Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

“You’d think that they’d want to showcase [Tebow] just a little if they want to deal him,” one of the sources said. “Do something to increase his value.”

Tebow, acquired from the Denver Broncos for a fourth- and sixth-round pick last offseason, is scheduled to make $1 million in 2013.

The bigger issue for the Jets is the $8.25 million that Sanchez is guaranteed for next season. The overall cap number is $12.85 million, which includes a $4.1 million proration of his signing bonus.

Sanchez played his way to the bench Monday with his latest bad outing, a five-turnover mess that helped eliminate the Jets from playoff contention.

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Sanchez has a league-leading 50 turnovers over the past two seasons (35 interceptions and 15 lost fumbles). As he reaches the end of his fourth season, a league source suggested he was disheartened by Sanchez’s lack of developmental, saying “I thought he would have been better by now.”

The Jets are concerned that Sanchez may not be salvageable. The problem is that his guaranteed money for next year, based on a contract extension he signed last offseason, makes him very difficult to cut.

While some in the Jets’ organization believe the team has the flexibility against the salary cap to cut Sanchez, it would be difficult for them to then shop for a replacement in the offseason.

According to NFL Players Association figures, the Jets have $141 million committed to contracts for next season. That includes seven players with cap numbers of $10 million or higher (Sanchez, wide receiver Santonio Holmes, center Nick Mangold, left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, linebacker David Harris and cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie).

In short, the Jets already have to cut nearly $20 million off the cap regardless of what happens to Sanchez. That means that the idea of signing a quarterback such as Michael Vick or Alex Smith, both of whom are expected to be cut in the offseason, seems like a long shot.

[More: CFL could be the key to Tebow’s quarterback salvation]

That likely means the Jets would have to go with McElroy, an inexpensive veteran and probably a player they draft if Sanchez is let go.

While some people might wonder why Tebow is not being given more of a chance, the team has obviously come to that conclusion he’s not good enough. The decision to start McElroy against San Diego spells that out clearly.

Long before this, when Sanchez struggled at other times, Jets coach Rex Ryan refused to make Tebow the starting quarterback. The only time Sanchez has been replaced prior to this coming game was when the Jets played Arizona and McElroy went in, throwing the game-winning touchdown pass.

Tebow was inactive for that game because of broken ribs.

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