There are reports here and here saying the New York Jets have entered the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. They will be one of several teams reportedly chasing one of the biggest names ever to hit free agency.
But the Jets aren't the favorites to land Manning and so they run the risk of collateral damage if he signs with another team.
The biggest form of collateral damage could be fourth-year quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was backed publicly by coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum. Ryan recently said Sanchez will be a "star" in the NFL, and Tannenbaum told Jets season-ticket holders that Sanchez will be the starter in 2012.
But all of that comes off as lip service if the Jets go after Manning. If Ryan, Tannenbaum and the Jets brass truly believe Sanchez is their starting franchise quarterback, why throw big bucks at Manning in an effort to chase the quick fix?
Sanchez has been criticized in the past for getting down on himself too much. His body language isn't good when things go poorly, and he tends to get in a funk where one bad game becomes two or three bad games in a row.
How should Sanchez, who has kept a low profile, handle this news? We asked some Jets fans about this topic via Twitter this week.
Chris_Leach_NYC writes: "It's NY, if you can't handle rumors and possible shake ups, get out. I hope he gets motivated."
RS_sully writes: "The Jets missed the playoffs and the locker room epically collapsed. If [Sanchez] doesn’t want to be replaced, don't let that happen."
M. Conner Chrebet writes: "I'll be in the minority but yes. They need to show Mark that he's their guy. Just like the Niners GM did for Alex [Smith]."
CaptainComeback writes: "If the Jets go for Manning, that should signal the end of the Sanchez era in NY. You can't go back to him after that."
Runaway3214 writes: "NFL is a business. Sanchez could have made this a moot point by improving his play and leadership. Time to face reality."
Most would agree Sanchez has been coddled by New York. He was given the job from Day 1 as a rookie and never had a strong backup to challenge him. If news of the Jets looking into Manning as a potential replacement doesn't wake up Sanchez, nothing will.
By the sheer numbers of interested teams, there's a solid chance the Jets won't land Manning. From there, it would be up to Sanchez to channel this situation in the best way possible for next season.