Sanchez deal impacts Bengals

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

New York Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has a couple of ties to the AFC North.

First, the former USC product was taken by the Jets after they traded up with the Cleveland Browns for the No. 5 overall pick. But second, and perhaps more importantly, the early contract signing by Sanchez will provide firm parameters for the Cincinnati Bengals to negotiate with the No. 6 overall pick Andre Smith.

Sanchez agreed to a five-year contract worth a maximum of $60 million Wednesday. Slotted just one spot lower, Smith's representatives can now use that number as a ceiling in negotiations, in addition to the five-year, $50 million deal Vernon Gholston received as last year's sixth pick as the minimum.

Many expect a tough negotiation between Smith and the Bengals, mostly because of Cincinnati's history of being tight with money. But at least New York's deal with Sanchez provides the potential for the Bengals and Smith's representatives to get started with meaningful discussions early.