Hey Tanny, It’s the Guarantees, Stupid

Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com

While the Jets enter their third “hold the fort” season from a free agency standpoint, Mike Tannenbaum is doing his best to find himself a media job, and yesterday his Tour de Incompétence continued on NFL AM.  Per Kristian Dyer in Metro.

Most of Tannenbaum’s defense of Sanchez, which included a sidebar on how “innately competitive” the former first-round pick is in the locker room, centered on the success the Jets enjoyed in Sanchez’s first two years with the team. Those seasons saw the Jets make consecutive AFC Championship games behind a strong defense and a run-heavy offense where Sanchez merely had to manage the games.

The team won games but individually it was far from a resume that would warrant a long-term deal, especial like the $40.5 million extension that Sanchez was inexplicably given by Tannenbaum last offseason.

Tannenbaum was also on the defensive on the show in attempting to justify his trade for Tim Tebow just weeks after inking Sanchez to that albatross of a deal. Tebow didn’t work out for the Jets and played sparingly in the Wildcat offense and on special teams, never playing a single snap in the traditional offense’s setting.

No one’s denying Sanchez’s hard work, his dedication, his leadership … but if a brother can’t five step drop, set his feet, and decisively throw a technically sound corner route, then none of that other stuff really matters.  It’s getting harder and harder to keep rehashing this … I think most of us are kind of over this storyline at this point.  So I probably am going to start tuning Tannenbaum out after this.

Tannenbaum was fired because he essentially got caught with his figurative personnel and contractual pants down.  The 2008, 2009, and 2010 draft classes weren’t bearing the sort of fruit that they should have as of last spring and with major money tied up in just a few players, the Jets couldn’t properly re-load the level of talent that the team needed to prop up their quarterback — their quarterback who never made the leap in play that many expected the removal of Brian Schottenheimer might finally bring.

Bringing in Tebow and handcuffing him was foolish, but Sanchez?  Sanchez withered in the environment of the 2012 season and that’s what’s caused most of the indigestion for Jets fans.  Tannenbaum came up short and no mistake, but remember what the true point of the extension was when the team did it.

Jason from NYJetsCap.com on March 10, 2012:

The real reason behind the contract was to defer the cap charges that Mark was expected to carry in 2012. Sanchez originally was scheduled to count for $14.25 million against the cap in 2012 and $8 million in 2013 provided he earned no escalators, a total of $22.25 million in cap dollars. Under the new deal Sanchez’ 2012 figure should fall to $7.85 million.

The guaranteed money that the Jets are now saddled with in 2013 was the Faustian bargain that the Jets struck in 2012 in order to clear up some cap space in 2012.  And it seems to be one that the Jets have repeatedly made in the past few years – to their own detriment.  Because the Jets roster was (and still is) so salary top-heavy, the Jets needed some room to maneuver and bring in talent to their roster.  The Jets more or less flip-flopped (he’s at $12.8 this year) the cap numbers between the years and in order to get Sanchez to agree to it, used the guaranteed money as a carrot to strike the deal.  As of March 2012, one can understand the reasoning, but based on how everything devolved, one can also see how that was a severely future-limiting decision.

Still, it was the deference Sanchez’s cap 2012 charge that allowed them to then make some other moves, like the ill-fated Tebow trade, the tepid signing of Chaz Schilens along with the savvy signing of LaRon Landry.

I’m not defending Tannenbaum, but one can understand why he thought at the time the move was worth the gamble.  Of course it was that very gamble that got him fired, and that gamble that brought in underwhelming free agent talent in 2012.  But part of the team’s inability to sign more sensible free agents was because of the frozen state of their cap as they entered free agency.  As seems to be the case most years, the team needed to spend more much time clearing space than courting sensible priced veterans who could have contributed to the team.

While there’s been some stink about John Idzik also having an administration background and whether or not that’s too similar to what Mike Tannenbaum was, my hope is that he’ll be smarter about the use of fully guaranteed money, over the last two years the Jets have made atrocious use of that aspect of the cap to mortgage the future at the present, and it needs to stop.

If anything, I hope that after guaranteeing Bart Scott money and having to drag him along in 2012, and now being in a similar predicament with players like Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez, the Jets will realize that fully guaranteeing future salaries in the new CBA structure is not working out for them.  Stick to the tried and true bonuses or other such work arounds, but they need to vastly re-think the way they guarantee money.

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