Jets quarterback controversy fueled by contracts?
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After another bad performance by quarterback Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium overflowed with “boos” and “Tim Tebow” chants. But around the NFL, other coaches are starting the best QB to win. San Francisco coach, Jim Harbaugh, made the bold decision to start Colin Kaepernick over starter Alex Smith. The Jacksonville Jaguars have broken their losing streak by starting Chad Henne. Why then, after 13 weeks of disappointing loses, have the Jets refused to give backup QB Tim Tebow a chance in the pocket? It begs the question: Is Jets quarterback controversy fueled by contracts?
Rex Ryan has maintained a “Mark is our guy” attitude throughout the season and continued with the same theme after losing to the Patriots on Thanksgiving. Ryan has stated that his decision is not influenced by the media or the teams financial commitment to Sanchez. But it’s about time we start to question the validity of his claim. It makes sense to put Tebow in when Sanchez is under performing, but the coaching staff has hesitated from the start of the season. Looking at the two QB contracts its clear the QB controversy is more than just a matter of “the best option to win,” but rather who the Jets have chosen to pay.
After coming off a mediocre year, the Jets offered Sanchez a 3-year extension to the two years Sanchez already had reminding in his rookie contract. Sanchez is guaranteed $20.5Million for 2012 and 2013 and is set to earn $40.5 Million per his last five years. The total value of the new deal is $58.25Million.
The light at the end of this deal is this: if Sanchez turns around his play he would be below market value. If Sanchez disappoints the Jets aren’t locked into the deal and can trade him.
Regardless this is an expensive and risky deal for an already limited salary cap. Making the decision to pick up Tebow and not give him a real shot makes little to no sense.
Tebow is one of the last QB’s with an old rookie contract structure. The contract is designed with numerous bonuses which are unlocked upon performance.
Last year, Tebow participated in 70% of the offensive snaps in Denver, unlocking a number of escalators in his salary. Due to extra playing time in Denver, Tebow unlocked $425K in 2013 and $125K in 2014.
The guaranteed performance based incentives are as follows: if Tebow was to pass over a certain number of yards and finishes in the top 5 of any passing category he earns a $1Million dollar escalator the following season.
That means if Tebow had played in 70% of the offensive playa and takes over 70% of offensive snaps in a playoff win, he earns an additional $250K per win.
Additionally, if he was to be named the NFL MVP or Superbowl MVP he would be entitled to $375,000. If Tebow was elected into the Pro Bowl, he earns $200,000. While it is unlikely for Tebow or the Jets to see the Superbowl this year, a Pro Bowl appearance would not have been a stretch if the backup was played.
Most of the incentives can no longer be unlocked as Tebow saw minimal time in the pocket this season.
Lets not forget Tebow’s original contract. He pulled in a roster bonus of $472,000 this year. His salary is $1.1 million and the Jets owe the Broncos $2.53 million to pay off the advance given to Tebow.
Where does this leave us? Stuck with Sanchez.
The Jets gave already paid Sanchez almost 10 times what they aid out to get Tebow this year. Even thou the Jets deny it, is clear the math is affecting Tebow Time on the field. The Jets do not want to admit their mistake in extending Sanchez contract and wasting a ton of money. So it’s a huge price they are paying for a losing season.
There is still time for the Jets to make a change in the pocket but it does not seem the coaching staff is willing to do even though sticking with Sanchez is a risky choice.
Jessica Daniels is an NFL team writer for TPF and can be contacted at JDaniels@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com