- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Former New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum took ownership for the infamous Tim Tebow trade that will define his tenure. In an interview Tuesday with ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini, Tannenbaum said he has no regrets but admits his trade bombed. That is commendable.
However, to think Tebow was Tannenbaum's biggest mistake is unfortunate and misleading. Tannenbaum's gross mismanagement of the salary cap is a much more crushing blow to New York. That is the reason the Jets are in a current state of instability even after Tannenbaum's departure.
Yes, Tannenbaum wrongfully orchestrated the Tebow trade. It was a disaster from the start. But, as Tannenbaum said, that was just one transaction of many. In a few weeks Tebow will simply be a bad, one-year experiment after the Jets cut ties with the popular backup quarterback this offseason. "Tebowmania" will be a small footnote in the Jets' lengthy history.
But what about Tannenbaun's decision to sign fellow quarterback Mark Sanchez to a $58.25 million extension last March? That includes a guaranteed $8.25 million salary that New York is stuck with next season. What about Tannenbaum's $45 million contract to controversial receiver Santonio Holmes that New York still has on the books? Or the constant restructuring of veteran players to save now but take the cap hit later?
Tannenbaum continued to push back cost until someone else had to foot the bill. New general manager John Idzik is now that person who has to clean up the major mess Tannenbaum created.
The repercussions from Tannenbaum's cap mismanagement will continue to haunt the Jets for the foreseeable future. It most likely will take at least two years for the Jets to clean house and build a new contender. With the Jets currently more than $19 million over the cap, 2013 could essentially become a throw-away season. It also could cost coach Rex Ryan his job if he doesn't win enough games with a scant roster. To some degree, Ryan can blame Tannenbaum for that.
Tebow will be remembered as the most overhyped and counterproductive transaction of Tannenbaum's regime. Yet, it Tannenbaum's large contracts and poor cap management that will stick with the Jets much longer.