FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - Geno Smith’s surprising slide through the NFL draft stopped in the second round.
Now, he might get a chance to be the New York Jets‘ starting quarterback.
The former West Virginia star was taken with the seventh pick in the second round, 39th overall, on Friday night and could be the future _ or maybe even present _ replacement for Mark Sanchez.
“Once I received the call,” Smith said, “I was extremely elated.”
Smith went from looking embarrassed and frustrated Thursday night on national TV during the first round, sitting back stage at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan as pick after pick came and went, and he remained seated and wondered where he’d end up _ and when.
He originally planned to head back home Friday, but opted to stay for the second day of the draft.
“Right now, none of that matters,” Smith said during a conference call. “My time has come now.”
It’s the second straight year the Jets have made major news at the quarterback position, and none of it has been good for Sanchez, although he agreed to a contract extension last offseason. But less than two weeks later, the Jets stunned the rest of the league _ and Sanchez _ by trading for Tim Tebow.
The selection of Smith by new general manager John Idzik seriously clouds the future of Sanchez, the team’s first-rounder in 2009 who led the Jets to consecutive AFC championship game appearances but has struggled mightily the past two seasons.
“What this means for Mark Sanchez is competition, and Mark is open to that,” Idzik said. “We’ve had discussions about that, and I think he buys into the fact that that helps him and it helps any player on our team, and as a result, it helps our team.”
Smith should compete for the starting job this season with Sanchez, who is owed $8.25 million in guaranteed money this season. But Rex Ryan’s Jets currently have Sanchez, Tebow, David Garrard, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms _ and now Smith _ as quarterbacks on their roster.
“We’re actually going to add two or three more, I think,” Idzik joked.
Tebow was expected to be traded or released, but in a surprising twist could now potentially stay.
It remains to be seen whether Sanchez will remain on the roster by the beginning of the regular season, despite his hefty contract. Idzik acknowledged that he hadn’t spoken to Sanchez just before or after the Jets drafted Smith.
The one-time franchise quarterback counts $12.85 million against New York’s salary cap this year. If the Jets do decide to cut him as a June 1 designation _ and that could be done at any point between now and then _ they would take a salary cap hit of $12.35 million this year and $4.8 million next year.