The New York Jets are changing starting quarterbacks for this Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers but will not be turning over the keys to the NFL’s 30th-ranked offense to Tim Tebow. Instead, Jets head coach Rex Ryan informed the quarterbacks that 2011 seventh-round pick Greg McElroy will replace Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback for the regular-season home finale.
McElroy spent the 2011 season on injured reserve and has been inactive for 13 of the Jets’ 14 regular-season games to date this season. With Tebow inactive due to a rib injury, McElroy was active for a Week 13 game against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 2 and the Jets turned to the former Alabama standout to replace an ineffective Sanchez in the second half. In 32 snaps, McElroy completed 5 of 7 pass attempts for 29 yards and a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland in the 7-6 win, but he has not dressed the last two games as Tebow was healthy enough to play.
The decision to start McElroy could mean that both Tebow and Sanchez are playing elsewhere in 2013.
The Jets acquired Tebow from the Denver Broncos in March, packaging draft picks in the fourth and sixth round and agreeing to repay the Broncos $2.53 million of a salary advance Tebow had received in 2011. In 11 games with the Jets, Tebow has completed 6 of 8 pass attempts for 39 yards, been sacked twice and has 102 rushing yards on 32 attempts. According to playing-time data tracked by Shutdown Corner, Tebow has logged 71 snaps (7.58 percent) on offense and 59 snaps (14.57 percent) on special teams. Trading Tebow would be difficult as the 2010 first-round pick out of Florida has not developed into an NFL-caliber starting quarterback and his 2013 base salary ($2.587 million) and additional cost ($1.53 million in cash owed to the Broncos over the course of the 2013 season) should give a sane front office pause before dealing anything of value to the Jets.
As for Sanchez, the Jets may have no choice but to eat the $8.25 million in fully guaranteed base salary — with no offsets — that he is set to receive in 2013. That will be easier to do if the Jets hire a new general manager, but if Woody Johnson does double down on the Mike Tannenbaum/Rex Ryan Era, Sanchez may need to go in order to avoid a schism in the locker room. There will assuredly be an NFL quarterbacks coach who believes he can salvage Sanchez, who leads the NFL with 50 turnovers the last two seasons, but no GM would saddle his owner with that contractual guarantee for next season and would likely prefer to take a flier on Sanchez at a lower, non-guaranteed base salary with performance incentives.
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