- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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For the third time in three days, GM Mike Tannenbaum endorsed Mark Sanchez, telling WFAN's Mike Francesa Wednesday that Sanchez will be the Jets' starting QB in 2012.
But the more Tannenbaum talks about Sanchez, the more I get the distinct feeling that the Jets are planning to acquire a veteran backup that could put pressure on Sanchez.
"Mark will be our starter," Tannenbaum said. "With that said, I think we will look at that position as a whole -- (Kevin) O'Connell, (Greg) McElroy, (Mark) Brunell -- and see if there are ways to improve the depth ... The depth at quarterback is very critical, and we look at that very closely."
In Tannenbaum-speak, that means, "We're bringing in some competition for a change."
Tannenbaum dismissed the Peyton Manning speculation, saying, "(Sanchez) is the right guy and I know we'll see a better Mark out there next year."
The GM also said of Sanchez, "Here’s what I would say: His rate of growth isn’t where it needs to be, but I think the trajectory of his career after three years is. I think he’s shown he can be a winning NFL quarterback and that’s what you need from the position. Do I think he's going to be Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or Drew Brees? Obviously, that would be hard to say as of today, but I do think we can win a lot of games with Mark as our quarterback."
Maybe so, but there's no doubt in my mind that the Jets will bring in a viable No. 2; they don't want to be caught short because if Sanchez doesn't get better and the team misses the playoffs again, it'll be hot-seat time for the coach and GM in Florham Park. On Wednesday, former Colts president Bill Polian said the reason he got fired is because he didn't have a better backup plan behind Manning.
Tannenbaum doesn't want to be saying that a year from now.
Here's a list of veteran quarterbacks that will be unrestricted free agents:
Matt Flynn, Packers
Alex Smith, 49ers
Kyle Orton, Chiefs
Jason Campbell, Raiders
Donovan McNabb, Vikings
Vince Young, Eagles