I know there's been 101 fanshots about this already, as well as the glorious masters of this blog pointing out their point of view, but I had to get my two cents in.
This move was incredibly shrewd. I don't just like it, I love it. And the more I think about it the more I like it.
It also shows why I'm glad the team is run by the front office and not the fans.
First things first, as has already been pointed out again and again, this is not a three year extension. All it does is guarantee this year and next year, while offering a small raise for next year.
What we get is $6.4 million in cap space for this year. Even if you hate Mark Sanchez, that's something very real we got out of this deal. If we're lucky we can get two starters for that money. If we get a safety and a receiver for that money, doesn't that make our team a lot better?
Next, if you really believed that this was a "do or die" year for Sanchez, you're kidding yourself. This is also an example of why fans shouldn't run franchises. Here's a guy who we drafted 5th overall just 3 years ago and proceeded to take us to back-to-back AFC championship games. One year where he doesn't progress enough and you want him on the hot seat?
Let's be honest, he's gotten better each and every year. It's not like he was a disaster last year. It's not like he regressed. He's worked and improved, not as much as we've hoped, but he's moved forward. And he's done it under a Offensive Coordinator who we all seem to agree was terrible. We knew what was coming! Sitting in our homes, we could tell, and we knew it wouldn't work. How many times did you see the wildcat lineup and just slap your head knowing it would just be a run up the middle for no gain?
Tony Sparano isn't known for working with QBs, but he is a real grown up and a real improvement over Schotty. His personality and point of view seems to mesh better with Rex and it seems like when we face a team with a weakness, we'll actually attack that weakness instead of going after their strength (because they'll never see that coming!).
He also had less progression than we expected last year behind an offensive line that had a MAJOR regression. He went from being protected to having a turnstyle at RT. Actually, that feels like too much of a compliment. You win by winning the battles in the trenches and every game this year we lost those battles on one side of the ball.
So given that this contract really only ensures one more year, it doesn't seem like a problem. The only risk, the ONLY risk, is if he's a complete disaster this year, which given all of the above is incredibly unlikely. The most likely scenario is that he'll be rather mediocre with some level of improvement over last year meaning that management would have stuck with him for another year anyway even with everyone on here likely calling for his head because he didn't deliver in a "make or break" year. The second most likely occurrence is that he's great, in which case there's no problem. It's only if he significantly regresses, that they would get rid of him after this year, and there's no reason to believe he will.
And to all of you calling for this to be a "make or break" year or thinking that if he improves a little bit we should cut him, who would you get to replace him? It's not like starting QBs grow on trees. There aren't very many out there. There are those who point out that he didn't take us to back-to-back AFC championship games, he was just there for the ride. But there's a reason he's second all time for road playoff wins, they're hard to come by. Mike Shanahan is a pretty damn good coach. He won only one playoff game after John Elway retired. Miami hasn't exactly been able to find anyone to start since Dan freaking Marino left. It's hard to find even an average starting QB, especially ones who can win in the playoffs.
If we're really worried about Sanchez's future we can use a draft pick on a QB next year and let them sit for a year behind Sanchez. for a year as Sanchez plays out his last guaranteed year (giving him another shot, while seeing if the youngin has what it takes to run an NFL offense). Who else will possibly give us the production he has?
One of the biggest criticisms of Sanchez has been the disorder in the locker-room and that he needs to do a better job of taking control of this team. Yet the people opposed to this extension want to undermine his authority by wanting so badly to be in a position to cut him after this year. Why should Santonio Holmes listen to or follow Sanchez when he knows he can get rid of Sanchez by not doing those things? This is the FO letting the team know that Sanchez is their guy and they're sticking with him. The message they're trying to send is that everyone should fall in line because no one is more important than him.
All of that doesn't mean they can't push him! This seems to be the largest matter of contention with the extension. But if you believe in the coddling line, then you still don't need to be worried.
If they get a backup like Chad Henne or David Garrard, guys who have been starters, there is still the threat of benching if he is stinking it up. This is our guy, this is our leader, but Rex has threatened to bench him before with less on the bench behind him. No QB competition, nothing to undermine the idea that Sanchez is the starter, but someone will be right behind him so he can never be contented or take it easy.
All in all, we got more room to make some moves in FA to make our team better, we avoided all this hair-pulling next year when the same people decrying this will likely want him cut when he wasn't going to be anyway, and we made a move to help settle things in the locker room (perhaps the most important need of the offseason other than safeties and RT). We did that, while taking very little risk.
I've been extremely happy with Tanny's run as GM, with a few exceptions. And this looks like a good start to another off-season for me (except for not cutting Wayne Hunter, that's inexcusable - unless we can actually get something for him, but that's not going to happen).