Jets coach Rex Ryan tried to enjoy a spring training baseball game and got bombarded with questions on Mark Sanchez's future. His answers
Rex Ryan would neither confirm nor deny the Jets' plans for Mark Sanchez.
Jim McIsaac / Getty Images North America
By Sam Gardner
New York Jets coach Rex Ryan probably would have liked to have taken in a baseball game without fielding questions about his chaotic quarterback situation, but even he knew that probably wasn’t going to happen.
What was surprising, however, was how non-committal Ryan was about Mark Sanchez’s status with the team when reporters quizzed him on the status of the starter-turned-backup Monday at the Yankees’ spring training tilt with the Nationals in Tampa, Fla.
Sanchez is scheduled to make $9 million this season in the final year of his contract, with a $2 million roster bonus coming his way if he’s still on the team after March 25.
The former starter, who missed all of last season after suffering a shoulder injury during the preseason, would represent a $13.1 million hit against the team’s salary cap -- as opposed to $4.8 million if he’s cut -- so most expect that his days with the team are numbered.
Ryan wouldn’t confirm or deny the team’s plans, but his lack of a response may have been all the answer frustrated fans of the team needed.
“We'll just let that play out and see what happens,” Ryan told NJ.com when asked about Sanchez’s future. “But it's nothing I'm going to make a comment on.”
Those comments -- or lack thereof -- notwithstanding, Ryan was more than happy to discuss Geno Smith, the incumbent quarterback who took over for Sanchez last season as a rookie and started all 16 games for the 8-8 Jets.
“I really like where he left off,” Ryan told NJ.com. “The last month of the season was probably his best. I know he had some rocky spots, to say the least. And so did we as a team. But to finish where he did, I think he was the second-highest-rated quarterback at the end of the season. Very few turnovers. He ran the ball effectively as well. So he used his legs, used his arms, cut down on turnovers.
“I think if he could play that way, we're going to be tough to beat.”
That, of course, doesn’t serve as proof that the Jets are about to release Sanchez, who, two seasons ago, faced repeated calls for backup Tim Tebow to start, only to eventually be replaced by third-stringer Greg McElroy. The Jets’ other options include trading Sanchez, should a suitor emerge, or holding onto him as an expensive -- and perhaps ineffective -- insurance policy for Smith.
But Ryan, if nothing else, seems to be content moving forward with Smith under center, which may be enough to spell curtains for the quarterback who, not too long ago, led New York to back-to-back AFC title games.