(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images.)

The New York Jets rewarded quarterback Mark Sanchez with a three-year contract extension worth $40.5 million after a 31-22 record over his first three years. But coming off the heels of their pursuit of Peyton, how does this move effect the team next season?

Mark Sanchez came out of his safe house Friday with a fistful of cash and an optimistic outlook. After enduring his most trying season as a starter for the Jets, Sanchez dipped into the abyss of anonymity only poking his head up to poke fun at the media in his Valentine’s Day tweet to his sweetheart, Santonio Holmes.

Since then speculation has surrounded the quarterback position for New York, with General Manager Mike Tannenbaum rather publicly “looking into” the possibility of signing Peyton Manning in recent weeks. The team, however, was rather quite about negotiations of the new contract for Sanchez that were ongoing throughout the height of the Manning saga and, according to the two started just a few weeks after the season ended.

“We looked into Peyton Manning, who obviously is a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, tremendous person, tremendous player that we all know, and we looked into it,” Tannenbaum told members of the New York media Friday night. ” But again, like I said, as events continued to unfold, we continued the negotiations with Mark, and what’s important for us is where we are tonight, which is Mark is our starter, and we’re excited about 2012.”

Here’s the breakdown of specifics from Sanchez’s three-year extension:

  • It’s a three-year extension with a restructure of the final two years (2012, 2013) of his rookie deal worth $40.5 million.
  • Still will be making the same $11.25 million in 2012 from his old deal except it’s now fully guaranteed. ($8 million signing bonus, $3.25 million base salary & $500K workout bonus).
  • 2013 compensation went from a non-guaranteed $6 million to a guaranteed $8.25 million.
  • Grand total of guaranteed money from new deal: $20 million.
  • Years 2014-16 are not guaranteed ($11.5 million in 2014, $14 million in 2015 & $12.5 million in 2016). Also $10 million in potential escalators in final three years.
  • The new contract saves $6.4 million in cap space for the 2012 season.

Tannenbaum said the new deal was not based on “hope” or “potential” or a “leap of faith”, rather a reward for a three-year resume; a body of work that has seen its share of highs and lows. He said this despite stating that Sanchez has not “progressed the way he hoped” earlier in the off-season while denying that the cap space created had any part in getting the deal done.

From a business perspective the deal makes sense. They stick with a guy who the team drafted to be their starting quarterback for at least another two years while freeing up cap space to begin plugging their other holes (currently the team stands $14 million UNDER the cap). With the non-guaranteed years in the back end of contract, Tannenbaum leaves the team open to make a change if desired.

From a public relations standpoint the deal appears to be a feeble attempt at patching up a wounded relationship.

There have been cries from the locker room, whether it was LaDanian Tomlinson, Greg McElroy or the infamous “anonymous” source, that allude to a lack of leadership from the captain’s position. Sanchez was named a team captain in 2011.

“[The contract extension] gives the team just a reminder that I’m the leader of this team,” Sanchez said Friday evening.

Throwing “captain-like” money at player doesn’t make a leader nor does it instill faith into those who thought Sanchez and company were not worthy of the responsibilities. Instead the move looked like a planned PR stunt done to coddle their budding franchise quarterback after missing out on Manning. Like leaving your steady girlfriend for that sexy mirage in a mini-dress in the corner of the bar, only to come back with your tail between your legs after she sent you packing.

Regardless of the motive the move made the most of the hand they were dealt: they locked up their young quarterback for the next five years with the option to part ways after 2013 while freeing up cap space to remain competitive in free agency this year.

Sanchez, undoubtedly with a chip on his shoulder from all the hoopla surrounding him over the past six months, will now have to prove he’s worth his weight in money. It’s a feeling he embraces.

“I’m excited to get back, and I’m going to be working my tail off these next few months to become the best possible starting quarterback that this franchise can have,” he said.


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