Their best player is gone; their worst player is still here; and their former franchise quarterback may now be out the door. The Jets drafted West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in the second round of the NFL draft yesterday. And the NY Times thinks the writings on the wall, scrawled in all caps: " Whether Geno Smith of West Virginia starts in Week 1 or Week 5 or Week 13, he will start. Whether the Jets release Sanchez, trade him or banish him to clipboard-toting, his future is elsewhere."
“We drafted Geno Smith because he has exceptional talent,” said new GM John Idzik. “Let’s get him in a situation where we can help him and develop that. Let’s see where that goes. We’re not here to predict what level he’s going to be.” Smith already got into the spirit of being on the Jets when he announced heartily, “We’re going to the playoffs next year.”
Smith had a rough draft week: he was passed over in the entire first round and the first six picks of the second round by teams desperately in need of a quarterback change. Despite being considering one of the two best quarterbacks in the draft, he wasn't quite valued at the level Smith thought he should have been (he almost left NYC in a huff Thursday night before deciding better of it). Even so, the Jets took two other players with their first round picks before settling on Smith.
But because this is the Jets, they can't make any moves without shooting themselves in the foot as well. The team now has six quarterbacks on their roster (Smith, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, David Garrard, Matt Simms, Greg McElroy), and all of them come with big caveats at this point, which is sure to cause some headaches: "Six?" an NFC scout asked ESPN incredulously. "That makes it a mess, doesn't it?"
But it is looking more and more likely that the Jets may part ways with Sanchez before it gets to training camp: “Competition means that there could be change at positions,” Idzik said. “That includes the quarterback position...Everything that we do is going to be centered on competition. Mark understands that.” But the Jets will have to take a huge salary-cap hit if they do so: if the Jets designate Sanchez a post-June 1 cut, he would count $12.3 million against the cap, less than he would if he is on the roster. The Jets would owe him at least an $8.25 million guarantee.
But that seems to be what everyone wants to happen: the Post calls Sanchez "Dead Quarterback Walking" (Rex Ryan is "Dead Coach Walking"), ESPN thinks the team should move on from the Sanchez-era as soon as possible, and the Times thinks it's a done deal: "The Jets did not spend the 39th overall pick on a quarterback to back up the N.F.L. leader in turnovers over the past two seasons."
Even Ryan, the most vocal and loyal Sanchez supporter, sounds resigned to the future: “One thing I learned,” Ryan said, “is that change happens. That’s just the way it is.”