With four-time MVP Peyton Manning suddenly available and the always-aggressive Jets needing better play at the quarterback position, the question becomes whether a Manning/Jets marriage will happen.
Though most Jets fans who endured last season’s frustrating roller-coaster ride would be thrilled to see Manning behind center, the Jets are actually not very well-positioned to acquire the 11-time Pro Bowler.
Why? Here are three sizable roadblocks.
1. The Jets don’t want to let go of Mark Sanchez.
Should Rex Ryan’s club acquire Manning, Sanchez would almost assuredly want to go, at least according to his former teammate LaDainian Tomlinson, who gave an interview on the NFL Network Wednesday about the possibility.
The revelation is no surprise, as former first-round pick Sanchez has been the starter the last three seasons and has led the team to the AFC title game twice.
However, the Jets also know that it takes time to develop quarterbacks, as evidenced recently by the path Manning’s own brother has taken. Eli Manning, once considered a near-bust, has blossomed into a franchise player in just a few short seasons and has two Super Bowl rings to show for it.
Should the Jets let go of the 25-year-old Sanchez in exchange for a few good years of Peyton Manning, they could soon find themselves starting over at the position while watching Sanchez come into his own elsewhere.
2. The Jets already have salary cap problems.
Just a couple weeks ago, left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson reportedly restructured his deal to free up $7.5 million in cap space for the 2012 season. The move is not an unusual one, though it’s a last-minute resort for desperate teams who are trading salary cap relief now for salary cap problems later.
The Jets would free up some space should they jettison Sanchez, who’s due an $8.5 million base salary this season, as well as a $2.75 million bonus later this month. However, that probably won’t be enough to replace the five-time All-Pro Manning, whose last contract averaged $18 million per season.
3. The Jets are focused on run-oriented personnel.
The ground game that the Jets hoped to have last season never consistently materialized, but the team’s personnel, both players and coaches, have been geared toward that style since Rex Ryan arrived three years ago. The team has selected running backs with mid-round picks in each of the past three drafts, is somewhat thin at wide receiver at the moment, and just hired offensive coordinator Tony Sparano in hopes of improving the ground-and-pound game.
All those run-first choices can be altered should Manning want to come aboard, but it would take some time to reverse ship, which could factor into Manning’s decision to come to the Jets in the first place.