<
>

Jets, Sanchez & the Patriots

What an offseason ... and it really hasn't even officially begun.

One of the latest twists is the Jets, who considered free-agent Peyton Manning, signing quarterback Mark Sanchez to a contract extension through 2016. The news broke Friday night.

The contract is a three-year extension for $40.5 million total, averaging $13.5 million per year, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The extension gives Sanchez five total years for $58.25 million, with $20.5 million fully guaranteed.

Instant reaction: Really?

Sanchez looked like he regressed last year, so the extension comes out of nowhere. Maybe it's the Jets idea of showing their support of Sanchez so there are no questions along those lines.

From afar, it seems like a curious approach, almost like making someone a captain and assuming that means he'll become a leader.

But maybe new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano brings the best out of him. If that happens, the deal could be viewed as reasonable for a top-15 starting quarterback, especially when considering how the cap is expected to rise in the coming years.

Still, it seems like a big risk to take. It's also a risk the Jets weren't forced into as Sanchez had two years remaining on his deal.

What does it mean for the Patriots?

Over the span of about six months, the Bills committed to Ryan Fitzpatrick through 2017 with a big deal, and the Jets followed with the Sanchez pact through 2016.

The jury is still out on both of those quarterbacks.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins have major questions at the all-important position, and are in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes.

Closer to home, Tom Brady is inked through 2014 but has said he hopes to play until he's at least 40.

For those who believe the NFL is a quarterback-driven league, the Patriots are positioned to remain in the AFC East driver's seat for the near future.