Jets owner Woody Johnson announced Monday morning that general manager Mike Tannenbaum will not be back with the team in 2013.
"Mike devoted 15 years of service to the Jets, and I want to thank him for his hard work and dedication," Johnson said in a statement released by the team. "Although he helped guide us to two consecutive AFC Championship Games, we are not where we want to be, and a new general manager will be critical to getting this team back on the right track."
Johnson said the Jets already have consulted with "a number of football executives" and hired a search firm to look for a new GM. Johnson made it clear that the next Jets GM would not be able to hire a new head coach.
"Rex Ryan will remain the head coach of our football team," Johnson said in the statement. "I believe that he has the passion, the talent and the drive to successfully lead our team."
"There are champions on this team that haven't been crowned yet. I am confident that the base we've established will allow the New York Jets to continue a winning tradition for years to come and I wish everyone in the organization the best of luck," Tannenbaum said in the statement.
Ryan was scheduled to address reporters Monday, but the Jets later announced the coach's news conference had been postponed.
Reports suggested late in the season that Tannenbaum might stick with the Jets in another capacity. He reportedly had a very close relationship with Johnson, but that couldn't erase the rough personnel decisions of the last few years. Tannenbaum handed Mark Sanchez an apology contract that guaranteed the quarterback $8.25 million next season after the team flirted with Peyton Manning. That deal will be an albatross for the next GM. The Jets also have not drafted well in the past three years, leaving a thin, top-heavy roster.
We agree with Johnson's assessment that personnel decisions were a far bigger problem than Ryan's coaching. But this is a backward way of doing things. Does the next GM have a say in the Jets' next offensive coordinator? Can the team wait that long? Tony Sparano is not expected to be brought back.
The Jets have been dysfunctional in recent years, and it's fair to question if this move will help. It will be harder for the Jets to attract the very best personnel men because any hire won't be able to choose a head coach. New decision-makers and inherited coaches often clash. Johnson is setting up a situation where Ryan essentially has more power than someone who's supposed to be his boss or at the very least partner.
In short, we don't expect the drama to end anytime soon.
Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.