Florham Park, NJ – The moment the Jets drafted Geno Smith, the clock started on Mark Sanchez’s time left in green and white.
Late last night, his time ran out – unofficially, at least.
The Jets announced late Tuesday that Sanchez underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, an injury he sustained in the third quarter of a preseason game against the New York Giants.
The surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews, will sideline Sanchez for the remainder of the season, keeping him out of sight and out of mind on injured reserve.
“After over seven weeks of hard work and intense rehab, I’ve been advised by Dr. Andrews and other doctors that my shoulder injury clearly needs to be addressed surgically,” said Sanchez in a statement.
The announcement, coming on the heels of Smith’s impressive comeback victory on Monday Night Football, signals a changing of guard at quarterback in New York.
Technically, Sanchez is still under contract for three more years but with his money no longer guaranteed coupled with the emergence of Smith, the Jets won’t bother keeping their former top-5 pick past his $2 million roster bonus, which comes due in March.
On Wednesday, head coach Rex Ryan was keeping to the company line regarding his former starting quarterback, but it was clear Sanchez’s status with the team is anything but certain.
“I never want to lose a player, ever. But I also understand there’s a business side to every decision,” said Ryan, naming Brandon Moore, Dustin Keller and Shonn Greene as players the team has had to let walk during his tenure as head coach.
“I recognize there are certain things that happen in this league and that’s the unfortunate part as a football coach,” he said.
When pressed even further about Sanchez’s future with the team, Ryan waffled.
“Again, will he come back? He’s under contract, so, you guys know more about it than I do. You look at it, he’s under contract, so fine,” he said.
But Ryan spoke volumes about the team’s future at quarterback in how he started his press conference, not how he ended it.
“First off, I’m sure you guys know,” Ryan said as he got to the podium, the confirmation of Sanchez’s surgery almost certainly on its way.
“Geno Smith was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week,” he finished. ”Obviously we’re proud of him.”
It wasn’t until seven minutes into the press conference that Ryan was prompted to respond to the Sanchez news, and by the time the questions had ceased you could tell he was glad.
“We’re acting like he’s dead,” Ryan joked, breaking the tension. “Sanchez is going to be 100 percent healthy, it’s not like his career is over. He’s going to play again.”
Just not for the New York Jets.