Manning is still an Indianapolis Colt at the moment and Ryan and Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum reiterated that their quarterback is Mark Sanchez. However, both said the Jets will explore any opportunity that they think will make the team better when asked repeatedly why the team won't close the door on Manning if Sanchez is their quarterback.
"First off, Peyton is under contract with a different team so I can't talk about him specifically," Ryan said at his news conference at the NFL scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. "But with our organization, we will look at everyone. There is a list of 10 free-agent quarterbacks that I have looked at and the draft guys that I have looked at."
"In my opinion, we have the best corner [Darrelle Revis] in the history of football along with Deion Sanders and we are still looking at a million corners," Ryan continued. "We also have Antonio Cromartie. We have a great group of corners but that doesn't mean we are not going to do our due diligence and look at every possibility regardless of the position."
Tannenbaum mentioned numerous times that Sanchez is the Jets' quarterback now and for the future as well. But he refused to say that the team would not explore the Manning situation when asked about the Colts quarterback.
"We believe in Mark," Tannenbaum said. "I think he is going to continue being a winning NFL quarterback that has started and won a lot of games for the Jets and we are excited that he is here. But with that said, just philosophically, my general approach is when there are opportunities for the team, I have a fiduciary duty to the team to look into it. The day I got hired I meant what I said, every rock, every day. We look at every opportunity every day to get better."
Sanchez finished his third season as a pro throwing for a career-high 3,474 yards and 26 touchdowns but also had 18 interceptions. He is due a $2.75 million roster bonus on March 28 and he has a $14 million cap number this coming season. The Jets just restructured left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson's contract to free up $7.5 million of cap relief by converting $9 million of Ferguson's $9.985 million 2012 base salary to a signing bonus. So the Jets are looking for more cap flexibility.
Ryan said he is looking for any way to improve on last year's disappointing 8-8 finish. He opened his news conference by stating that he made a mistake and regretted guaranteeing here at last year's combine that the Jets would win the Super Bowl.
The head coach felt he put undue pressure on the Jets and it showed at the end of the season.
"Obviously, it was a huge mistake to make that guarantee," Ryan said. "At the time, coming off two [AFC] championship games, I really thought it would be a thing that would actually motivate our team."
"When I go back and I look at it, it contributed to the season that we had," Ryan added. "I will take full responsibility for it."
Ryan said he believes Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes will mend a fractured relationship. The head coach said he did not know if the two have gotten together yet during this offseason but he is confident that the two will improve together this season.
"The one thing about those two guys that they have a lot in common, they are both competitive guys and both had success in this league," Ryan said. "It's not like they haven't been successful before in the past together. I really think there is enough in common right there that they will fix this."
"There are some lessons that were well learned," he added. "I can promise you."
One thing Ryan could not promise, though, was whether the Jets will explore the Manning situation if there's a divorce between the quarterback and the Colts or any other player that could improve the Jets.
"I think Mark Sanchez is an outstanding quarterback and he is our quarterback and I think he has a great future," Ryan said. "I am not coming off that. But will we look at every scenario? Of course. Will we look at every kicker out there as painful as that is? Absolutely."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the NFL for ESPNNewYork.com.