Mark Sanchez's days of running into his own teammates' posteriors as the New York Jets starting quarterback may finally be over.
The Jets have been kicking the tires on several available quarterbacks this offseason, indicating that they're ready to give up on the former first-round draft pick. Speculation to that end intensified Friday, when the Arizona Cardinals released starter Kevin Kolb, a serviceable player whose outsize cost made him undesirable.
Kolb has had an unpredictable career, at times showing promise but never developing into the great quarterback many thought he could become after signing a lucrative, $63.5 million contract with Arizona two years ago. Injuries limited his production in recent years, but he played well before that in Philadelphia — under current Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, no less. Mornhinweg is widely believed to have been a major proponent of the Eagles drafting Kolb in the second round of the 2007 draft in the first place, and it's possible a reunion would spark a return to form for the quarterback.
That Kolb could soon be a Jet is more than just a game of "what ifs." The New York Daily News reported earlier this week that the Jets were already interested in signing him, assuming the price was right and the Cardinals released him, as they now have. Others have since confirmed that the Jets, and Mornhinweg in particular, like what Kolb could bring to the team.
The Jets quarterback troubles have gone from crisis to farce. Sanchez had a promising start to his pro career, leading the team to two consecutive AFC title games that masked his subpar individual performances. But as the team struggled throughout the 2011 season, fans began to focus their ire on Sanchez and his bumbling, baffling plays.
After that season, the team brought in Tim Tebow to serve as a second option. That move turned out to be an unmitigated disaster, and by the end of the year, they'd benched both Sanchez and Tebow in favor of seventh-round pick Greg McElroy.
That's why, even before Kolb went on the market, the Jets have been shopping around for Sanchez's replacement. Days after Mornhinweg said Sanchez would "have a leg up" on the starting job come training camp, the Jets signed 35-year-old David Garrad, who hasn't played since 2010. The Jets have even been linked to another recent draft bust, Brady Quinn.
That the Jets would rather sign a burned-out veteran and a chronic underachiever than stick with Sanchez speaks volumes about their attitude toward him. Even if they don't go all in for Kolb, they've already made it clear that Sanchez's starting job is in serious jeopardy.
The Jets have to pay Sanchez — his bloated contract makes him virtually impossible to cut or trade — but that doesn't mean they're going to play him.