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Cromartie: Mark Sanchez didn't cause Jets problems

  • By Andy Fenelon NFL.com
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KAPOLEI, Hawaii -- With lots of news swirling around the possibility of the New York Jets trading All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, the team's ever-controversial quarterback situation has been knocked off the New York tabloids' back pages.

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But it's just as relevant. And the lone member of the Jets in Hawaii this week for the Pro Bowl believes the solution already exists on the roster.

More importantly, cornerback Antonio Cromartie insinuates, a change at general manager should be the impetus for improvement.

Cromartie -- without mentioning Mike Tannenbaum's name -- threw the former Jets GM under the bus that Tannenbaum left town on earlier this month, saying the problems quarterback Mark Sanchez had in 2012 laid at the feet of Tannenbaum, not Sanchez.

"We have confidence in Mark," Cromartie said Friday after the AFC team's morning walk-through. "Like I've always said, even with the whole (Tim) Tebow thing, if we're going to sign Mark to a three-year extension, we need to make sure we put guys around him.

"If he has good, veteran players around him -- ones that know how to practice and compete at a high level every day -- then you'll have a better quarterback. But when you don't have a supporting cast around him, you're going to get an average or below-average quarterback. That's what we got."

Clearly the implication here is that Tannenbaum, in Cromartie's mind, failed to do his job. And, in general, Jets owner Woody Johnson agreed, firing Tannebaum on Jan. 2, then hiring John Idzik away from the Seattle Seahawks to fill the vacant GM post and start cleaning up the mess.

Idzik so far has been low-key, unlike his head coach, and has refused to engage in conversations regarding the future of Sanchez. Of course, as he stated at his introductory press conference on Thursday, "I'm literally only hours into the job."

But as Idzik begins the process of evaluating the quarterbacks on his roster, players who endured another circus-like season with the Jets are already forming their opinions. Some, like Cromartie, are offering suggestions.

"He needs a better supporting cast," Cromartie said about Sanchez. "That's something the new GM has to look at and evaluate as he's looking at the roster. He needs to get Mark some help."

That's easier said than done. The Jets' cap situation in 2013 is as bad as the Oakland Raiders' was last year, a reason several GM candidates were leery of taking the job. The Jets brought in 10 candidates over a two-week period before settling on Idzik.

And Sanchez's contract complicates matters even further. If the Jets keep him, he will count $12.8 million against a cap that is already bulging. And if the Jets cut Sanchez, he'll still count even more toward the cap -- $17.2 million.

It's a mess Idzik has inherited and it's his job to figure out. Even Cromartie turned down an offer to help solve that one.

"That's above my pay grade," he said.

Andy Fenelon is a senior editor at NFL.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Andy_Fenelon.

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