Post-Garrard, Jets must keep Mark Sanchez

If there was any doubt about the immediate future of quarterback Mark Sanchez with the New York Jets, all questions should've been answered on Wednesday.

Sanchez and his $8.25 million guaranteed salary will remain in New York through the entire 2013 season. Veteran quarterback David Garrard’s decision to walk away from the Jets due to a balky knee sealed any possibility of New York releasing Sanchez. New York’s quarterback competition has been reduced to four quarterbacks. But in reality there's only two legitimate options: Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith.

There was some debate of whether Sanchez would last in New York. The Jets would like to get rid of his huge salary but didn’t want to take the enormous cap hit. However, Garrard had an opportunity to beat out Sanchez and provide the veteran leadership needed in New York's quarterback room.

But post-Garrard, the Jets definitely need Sanchez now. He’s the only Jets quarterback with extensive experience. Sanchez is a four-year starter who has won playoff games and advanced to the AFC title game in back-to-back years following the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Smith, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms have one career start between them.

Garrard, 35, would have served as a good person for New York’s young quarterbacks to lean on. He also has playoff experience and spent most of his career in a West Coast offense, which gave him an advantage under new Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. But a balky knee makes it all a moot point at this stage.

It's going to be either Sanchez or Smith under center in Week 1 for the Jets when they host Darrelle Revis and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But perhaps the biggest winner is McElroy or Simms, who now have a chance to latch on as New York's third quarterback.