New York Jets General Manager John Idzik said decisions on the status of quarterback Mark Sanchez or whether to trade All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis are premature, and that competition will determine the roster.
Idzik, 52, was hired last week to succeed Mike Tannenbaum after six seasons as the Seattle Seahawks’ vice president of football operations. After helping build a team that reached the National Football League playoffs with an 11-5 record this season, Idzik takes control of a squad that went 6-10 and missed the postseason for the second straight year.
The Jets have a quarterback quandary, a lack of playmakers and a roster that’s almost $20 million over the league’s payroll limit. Among the biggest decisions Idzik faces are whether Sanchez and backup quarterback Tim Tebow will remain with the organization, and if the team tries to trade Revis before he becomes an unrestricted free agent after next season.
“The most immediate business item we’ve got to address is a thorough and comprehensive review of our current roster,” Idzik said at his introductory news conference. “From there, we’ll be able to develop short-term plans going into free agency, plans in regards to salary cap, and there will be countless hours in prep for the 2013 draft.”
Tannenbaum was fired after the season, while coach Rex Ryan was retained. The Jets had a 57-55 record during Tannenbaum’s seven-year tenure.
Idzik’s primary responsibilities in Seattle were managing the salary cap and handling contract negotiations, though he entered the NFL as a scout and said he’s had extensive experience in that capacity in recent years.
Idzik’s father, John, was the Jets’ offensive coordinator from 1977 to 1979. Before joining the Seahawks, Idzik spent three seasons as senior director of football operations with the Arizona Cardinals. He was also with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 11 seasons and won a Super Bowl title in 2001 as the team’s assistant general manager.
“He’s spent 20 years in every facet of the football business and he’s done it all,” Jets owner Woody Johnson said. “He’s absolutely the right person to do this job and will add so much to what we’re trying to collectively do, and that’s put a championship team on the field.”
Sanchez was benched in favor of third-string quarterback Greg McElroy at the end of 2012. He had an NFL-high 53 turnovers over the past two years, including 36 interceptions, and is guaranteed $8.25 million next season. The Jets would face a $17.1 million salary cap hit over the next two years if they cut Sanchez, the fifth pick in the 2009 NFL draft.
Idzik said he isn’t ready to comment specifically on Sanchez. He said he evaluated the quarterback in college and is familiar with him through Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who coached Sanchez at the University of Southern California.
“I don’t want to drill down too deep,” Idzik said when asked about Sanchez’s future. “That we’re going to save for our evaluation process in the days and weeks to come. In looking at Mark, he’s an athletic guy, he was accomplished at USC and done some nice things here, but we need to take our time and evaluate Mark with everyone else on roster and see how we can move forward and improve.”
Tebow saw little playing time at quarterback with Jets a year after leading the Denver Broncos to the playoffs.
In acquiring the former Heisman Trophy winner, the Jets said he would be used to run their wildcat offense, a package featuring runs and passes by the quarterback that are used to confuse defenses. Tebow completed six of eight pass attempts and rushed for 102 yards on 32 carries. He spent more time on special teams, playing mostly as the up back on punt formations.
Revis, 27, has been regarded by some as the best defensive player in the NFL when healthy. He is coming off a season in which he played in two games before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. CBSSports.com reported yesterday that Johnson wanted to explore a trade for Revis, who is set to make $6 million in 2013.
“It’s way premature to say anything specific,” Idzik said. “One of our first steps is to go through roster in detail and that includes Darrelle, that includes everybody. And then develop a comprehensive plan from there.”
Revis was selected as an All-Pro in three of his first five NFL seasons and the Jets’ defense has relied on his one-on-one coverage skills against opponents’ top receivers. Getting fair- market value for him in a trade may be difficult, with Revis three months removed from major knee surgery and likely to demand a contract when he becomes a free agent that makes him among the league’s highest-paid players. ESPN said he might be looking for as much as $16 million a year.
“Revis will always be a contract issue unless and until he is paid as a ‘premiere player’ rather than as a cornerback,” Andrew Brandt, a former NFL executive and now an ESPN business analyst, said today on Twitter.
The Jets are $19.4 million over the NFL’s salary cap for 2013, according to ESPNNewYork, though Idzik said he “never saw the cap situation here as a hindrance.”
“It’s something you research, work through, evaluate, and make the moves that we think are best for the Jets,” he said. “I’m fully confident we’ll be able to do that and we’ll have a fruitful offseason.”
A former wide receiver at Dartmouth College, Idzik attended Senior Bowl practices with Ryan and other members of the Jets’ football personnel department this week in Mobile, Alabama, to evaluate top college prospects ahead of April’s draft.
He said he doesn’t see dysfunction in the Jets’ franchise, which probably has garnered more headlines in recent years for off-field issues than for on-field success.
“There seems to be a lot of misperceptions,” Idzik said when asked about bringing a more serious attitude to the organization. “I don’t look at it as repair. I look at it as fostering what we have here. We have a good group of people.”
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