By Kristian Dyer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Unlike the Jets other backup quarterback, Mark Sanchez doesn’t know what the future holds or even who holds his future.
Or for that matter if he’ll be active on Sunday when Greg McElroy is the Jets starting quarterback. In the big picture, however, that may not matter much.
Multiple reports have surfaced over the past two days linking Sanchez, the team’s first round pick in 2009, with a possible exit this offseason.
If the reports are to be believed, then the Jets will be actively looking to shop Sanchez and his four-year contract extension and oodles of guaranteed money to anyone who will take him. That’s the Sanchez who has 13 touchdowns and 17 interceptions this year and whose completion percentage slipped from last season.
Buttfumbles not included.
If the Jets do manage to trade Sanchez for something, anything for that matter, then it is a step in the right direction. This is a franchise that has stuck with fading players or bust draft picks far too long in order to justify the rationale behind those moves.
Consider the case of Vernon Gholston, the team’s first round pick in 2008 and the No. 6 player taken overall in that draft. It was clear from the beginning that Gholston was not going to be a very good player and that he was over-hyped from the start. The Jets wisely gave him a year to develop and nothing came of it but in his second and third year with the team, management and the head coaching staff continued to hype the idea that he was making progress.
Meanwhile, a player who shuffled between linebacker and defensive end during his three years in New York registered just 42 career tackles and not a single sack and the Jets parted ways with Gholston after his third season. In late July of 2011, the Bears signed Gholston and took a flyer on his potential. Exactly one month later, he was cut and out of Chicago. The Jets always tried to prop up Gholston so as to justify his draft selection, even to the detriment of their team and developing other players while the Bears cut ties with him in short order.
Fast forward to this year and the Jets did the same thing with Sanchez, failing to make a move to Tim Tebow or Greg McElroy sooner because Sanchez was the No. 5 overall pick in 2009 and was given a five-year contract extension this past March. The Jets were willing to sacrifice wins to justify the resources they put into Sanchez. He had to start because the reputation of management rested on him having success.
Thankfully, this foolish trend has stopped here and now.
By going with McElroy for this Sunday’s game, the Jets are willing for at least one week to do the right thing and see what their No. 3 quarterback can do. No matter that the right thing would have been to give Tebow the start (after all he was Sanchez’s backup all year long), at least the Jets aren’t married to Sanchez for this week.
On Friday Sanchez said he hasn’t thought about his future with the Jets, he’s focused on this year. What he meant to say is that he doesn’t want to think about the Jets making the right move and giving him the old heave-ho after this season.
For in Sanchez, the Jets have created the perfect storm. Four years ago, he was hyped as the “Sanchise” and already enshrined in Canton by the coaching staff and management. He benefited the most from their conservative offense, the “Ground & Pound,” and he took more than his fair share of credit for the consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances in his first two years in the league. Then the wheels came off these past two years as he’s shouldered more of the offense’s burdens and he was exposed as a liability.
Five turnovers on the field on Monday night at the Titans are testament to his ineptitude. Perhaps never to be seen again, at least not in a Jets uniform.
Sanchez has gone from a game manager his first two years in the league to being asked to now being asked to not lose games. It is impossible to name one player who has become better because of him, one player whose career has benefited from playing with Mark Sanchez.
Instead, the Jets are left wondering how they can unload this albatross of a contract on some gullible team.
Sanchez is right, he may not know who holds his future. All he should know is that his future isn’t here.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and also contributes to Yahoo! Sports. He can be followed on Twitter here for insight, news and snarky comments.
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