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Behind the Sanchez deal

4/26/2009

Posted by ESPN's Sal Paolantonio

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Consider this: About four months ago, Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum fired Eric Mangini. On Saturday morning, he asked Mangini to help him get to the Super Bowl by making a trade for a franchise quarterback, USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Despite the divorce, Tannenbaum said that he and Mangini remained friends and "in constant communication."

It was a very unusual deal and set of circumstances. First of all, Tannenbaum said he knew he was in competition with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, and "he usually gets what he wants. That's the way he's wired." Then, no team had traded into the top six picks since 2004.

So, Tannenbaum had to have the insider's deal. Tannenbaum said he had been talking with Mangini about this deal for weeks. And while they were talking, Jets head coach Rex Ryan was talking back channel about the same deal with his brother, Rob Ryan, the defensive coordinator in Cleveland.

The key to the deal was Jets starting right defensive end Kenyon Coleman -- he's a two-gap player who fits Rob Ryan's scheme of occupying space on the outside. But not Rex Ryan's, which is more like his father Buddy's, the famed "46" defense that won the Chicago Bears a Super Bowl in 1985. Rex Ryan wants a defensive end who will, as he put it, "put his hand in the ground, and then get up field, wreak havoc behind the line of scrimmage."

So, it was the firm of Tannenbaum, Mangini, Ryan & Ryan that got the deal done.

Moreover, trying to sell personal seat licenses and season tickets for the new football stadium coming online for opening day in 2010, the Jets wanted Sanchez in the worst way for their new, much more aggressive marketing campaign. On Saturday, the Jets had four draft parties spread throughout the New York metropolitan area: On Long Island, in New York City, and two in North Jersey.

In June, the Jets' mandatory minicamp will be open to the public for the first time, with a Jets Fest fan interactive bazaar in the parking lot of their new facility in Florham Park, N.J.

The team will hold training camp at three different venues: In Florham Park, on their old home, Long Island, and at the State University of New York in Cortland.

And the Jets hope Sanchez will be a natural link to the Latin community in the New York area.

"We want to reach out to the Latin community," said a senior member of the Jets public relations department, who also said the team plans more coverage from newspapers like El Diario La Prensa.

But all of that is not going to matter if Sanchez is not a winner. Consider this: Before Sanchez, since the days of Joe Namath, the Jets had drafted 15 quarterbacks, hoping one of them would become the heir apparent to Broadway Joe. None did. In fact, none of those 15 finished their Jets careers with a winning percentage north of .500. Sanchez is the sixteenth.

The headline of the back page of Sunday's New York Post blared: "Sanch -- Yes!" That can quickly turn to "Sanch -- No!" if the Jets new quarterback doesn't win.

Sal Paolantonio is ESPN's bureau reporter based in Philadelphia.