FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mark Sanchez wants to stay right where he is.
So does Darrelle Revis.
The two players are among the Jets’ biggest uncertainties heading into next season, with Sanchez coming off a miserable year and Revis recovering from a serious knee injury while also having a sticky contract situation.
“Until I’m told differently, I’m a Jet,” Sanchez said on Monday as the Jets cleaned out their lockers. “That’s what I always thought would happen. I don’t see anything different. I just want another crack at this thing.”
Whether he gets that opportunity remains to be seen. The 2009 first-round pick had his worst season since his rookie year, throwing 18 interceptions and getting benched for a game late in the season. Sanchez appeared to lose his confidence as the season wore on, and questions about his ability to lead the team became more frequent.
Sanchez didn’t hesitate when asked if he believes that he can be the team’s starting quarterback again.
“No question,” he said. “Absolutely.”
Sanchez completed just 54.3 percent of his passes in 2012, throwing 13 touchdown passes to 18 interceptions. He also fumbled the ball 14 times.
Some believe that Sanchez might be best suited for a change of scenery, to leave the pressures of New York and start over with another franchise. But that will be a tough task for whoever replaces Mike Tannenbaum, who was fired as the team’s general manager on Monday.
Sanchez is due $8.25 million in guarantees next season after having his contract extended last offseason. He would cost the Jets a $17.1 million salary-cap hit next season if he is cut, but New York could spread that amount over the next two seasons if he is released after June 1.
The salary-cap hit would still be a costly $8.9 million even if the Jets do find a willing trading partner. So there’s a good chance that Sanchez will be back next season to compete for the starting job, possibly with a veteran brought in who could present a viable challenge.
“I’ve got confidence in Mark,” Revis said. “It was a tough year for him. The only thing you can try to do is just lift him up as much as you can and be positive around him. … I just think he has to just focus on football.”
One player who likely won’t be back is Tim Tebow.
Tebow was expected to be a key part of the offense after he was acquired from Denver in a trade last March. Instead, he had no impact and was never a serious challenger to Sanchez for the starting job. Tebow was leapfrogged by third-stringer Greg McElroy when Sanchez was benched, and is expected to be traded or released during the next several weeks.
Tebow said all the right things during his one season with the Jets, doing all he could to hide his frustration at his lack of playing time. He was the NFL’s most sought backup, though, attracting large crowds of media every Wednesday and Friday — the days he spoke in front of his locker. His presence, many assumed, provided too much of a distraction for Sanchez.
“I’m not going to make any excuses about anything like that,” Sanchez said. “He worked his butt off while he was here and he tried to come in and help this team. That’s all I’m going to say about that. He’s a good teammate.”
Having watched from the sideline most of the season with a torn ligament in his left knee, Revis was disappointed that the Jets were labeled by many as a “circus,” led by the hoopla surrounding Tebow. There were also the comments by anonymous players throughout the season that annoyed Revis, saying his teammates need to “keep things positive around here.”
Meanwhile, Revis expects to be “100 percent ready” by the time next season begins, but there are obvious concerns. Revis was considered the best cover cornerback in the league at the time of his injury, and he’ll need to prove that he hasn’t lost a step and is healthy enough to be a top player again. A new contract might also depend on it.
“Right now, I’m not even focused on that,” he said. “I’ve got to get this knee back to 100 percent. That’s all I’m focused on — is rehabbing — and we’ll go from there.”
Revis considered holding out of training camp because he was expecting an extension, but instead reported on time. Tannenbaum and the team talked about wanting Revis to retire someday as a member of the Jets. Whether a new general manager feels the same will dictate Revis’ long-term future.
“I definitely want to be here,” Revis said. “This is where I live. This is the team I got drafted by.”
Despite a 6-10 season that ended with three straight losses, Revis thinks that the Jets could get back to their winning ways quickly.
“We’re not far,” he said. “It’s just this year there was a lot of stuff going on. … The season kind of spiraled into turmoil from injuries, and I think we couldn’t really bounce back from that.”
We know how most of you feel about Sanchez, but what do you think about Revis? How concerned are you about the injury-riddled cornerback? Share your thoughts and comments in the section below…
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