The New York Jets have decided to start Greg McElroy on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers and that decision has affected the future of the team's other two quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.
The Jets quarterback drama continued on Wednesday, as Tebow showed frustration with his role in the offense, while the Daily News reported that the team will look to trade Sanchez, their former first-round draft pick and four-year starter.
According to ESPNNewYork.com, the Jets will try to explore trade options with other teams for Sanchez, who has a contract that might not be so easy to move. He has an $8.25 million guarantee in 2013 after the Jets gave him an extension in the offseason and would be a $17 million cap hit if he was cut.
Sanchez's agent and older brother, Nick Sanchez, was contacted about the trade speculation on Wednesday.
"Mark is a Jet and he's going to support the Jets any way he can through the remainder of season," he said to ESPNNewYork.com.
The report said that the Jets are willing to explore numerous options and NFL.com along with the Daily News are reporting that Eagles quarterback Michael Vick would be open to playing for the team if he is released after the season.
"Bring it on," one Jets source told the Daily News of Vick possibly joining the team, according to NFL.com.
Sanchez has regressed greatly in his fourth season, which is usually the year that quarterbacks mature into consistent players. He has turned the ball over 50 times over the past two seasons and has thrown for 2,678 yards and 13 touchdowns with 17 interceptions and 12 fumbles.
The last straw for Sanchez came on Monday night, as the Jets lost 14-10 to the Titans and were officially eliminated from the playoffs. He passed for just 131 yards in the game and had four interceptions.
On the final play of the game, as the Jets were lining up for a chance at the game-winning score on Tennessee's side of the field, Sanchez fumbled and turned the ball over, ending the game. That could be his final snap as a Jet.
"It's not like a debate," Sanchez said to the Daily News. "He's the head man and he makes the decisions."
Over the years head coach Rex Ryan said that Sanchez would be the quarterback for as long as he was the coach, but that is not the case anymore. He has praised Sanchez over the past few seasons after winning four playoff games over his first two years, but the Jets have missed the postseason in the time since then. He felt he had no choice but to bench Sanchez for Sunday's game after his past performance.
"A ton of emotions go through your mind," said Sanchez of the benching to ESPNNewYork.com. "At the forefront is just disappointment. You're upset, frustrated with my play and some of the decisions I've made -- not just for myself, but for the team. Losing hurts and playing poorly hurts."
Sanchez could remain with the team as a backup, but it is unclear what the Jets will do if they can't trade him in the offseason.
"I'm not going to go into hypotheticals about me being here or not being here," he said. "Any questions about, 'What's going to happen next year? Are you going to be a starter again?' I'm not even going to go there."
That still leaves Tebow. The Jets traded for him in the offseason and said they would use him in special formations and the Wildcat offense, but that didn't turn out as expected and he has played in only 70 offensive snaps. Things started to boil over on Wednesday as Tebow showed frustration at being passed over to start on Sunday after serving as the No. 2 quarterback behind Sanchez all season.
"Some things are hard to understand," he said to ESPNNewYork.com.
Tebow is signed until 2014, but when he was asked about his status for 2013, he said to ESPNNewYork.com: "I'm not sure. It's something we'll talk about after the season."
Throughout the season Tebow has been a good soldier and hasn't complained about being used in punt protection or on special teams. But things came to a head on Wednesday after reporters asked about McElroy starting and how he feels about his role on the team.
"All you can ask for, all you want is a chance -- a chance to go out and play the game you love and help this team win football games," he said. "That's all I wanted. I tried to make the most of every opportunity I had. I would've loved to have had more."
Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano praised Tebow all preseason and training camp and tried to keep what they were going to use him for a secret. It's a secret they have kept all year. Tebow has thrown for 39 yards on 6-of-8 attempts and has rushed for 102 yards this season.
"Here is the most popular athlete in the sport, according to many polls, and the Jets this season have benched him, misused him, humiliated him. They gave up too much material for him, a pair of draft choices. They paid him too much money, with a cap hit over $3 million," wrote The Daily News' Filip Bondy. "If Tebow were anyone but Tebow, he would be throwing a fit right now and nobody could blame him."
Tebow would have had a chance to play against the Arizona Cardinals after Ryan benched Sanchez, but he was inactive for the game with a rib injury. McElroy came in and helped spark the Jets to a 7-6 win. Making the situation even more awkward, McElroy and Tebow played against each other in college while at Alabama and Florida respectively.
Tebow has been frustrated by the lack of playing time on offense and said that he was supposed to get a "few possessions" in Monday night's game against the Titans, but finished 0-for-1 with three rushes for 15 yards.
"I don't feel deceived," he said. "I appreciate the opportunity I've had here and want to make the most of these last two weeks."
Running back Joe McKnight talked about the fans and how the quarterback decision was affected by their enthusiasm for McElroy during the Cardinals game.
"You kind of could tell how it was going to go the whole year by how the fans were doing their thing, screaming Tebow's name while Mark was in the game," McKnight said. "Stuff like that just kinds of adds on to the pressure of the coaches."
The Jets have gone just 6-8 this season and have won two of the past three games despite the bad play from the quarterback position. The team had a three game losing streak earlier in the season and are ranked 30th in the league in passing with just 181 yards per game.