- Associated Press - Friday, March 9, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - Mark Sanchez is the Jets’ main man, not Peyton Manning.

After acknowledging that New York “looked into” pursuing Manning, Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum announced Friday night the team extended Sanchez’s contract by three years. The move ended speculation the Jets could push him aside to make way for the former Indianapolis Colts star who’s now a free agent.

“To find out that I could come back for three more years means the world to me,” Sanchez said in a conference call. “I’m absolutely pleased to be a Jet. My family’s ecstatic and now it’s time to get to work.”

Sanchez, 25, had two years remaining on the deal he signed when the Jets made him a first-round draft pick in 2009.

The contract extension is for $40.5 million, giving him five total years for $58.25 million, with $20.5 million fully guaranteed, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hadn’t announced financial terms, said the deal includes an additional $10 million in potential escalators. So, the maximum value of the three new years is $50.5 million, and $68.25 million over the entire deal.

Tannenbaum did not elaborate on the Jets’ inquiry about Manning, but acknowledged the team had internal discussions about possibly going after the four-time NFL MVP.

“When a first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback becomes available,” Tannenbaum said, “you look into it.”

Sanchez led the team to the AFC championship game as a wild card in his first two seasons, but struggled as the Jets lost their last three games in 2011 to finish 8-8 and out of the playoffs.

That led to speculation they would pursue Manning, who was released by the Colts on Wednesday.

Sanchez, who said the team approached him about an extension shortly after the season ended, understood the Jets’ interest in Manning.

“This is a business, and the team has an obligation to consider all of its options,” Sanchez said. “I’m excited they believed in me, and I’m the guy they want to move forward with in the future. I really didn’t think too much into it.”

New York is in the market for a backup quarterback after Mark Brunell served in that role for two seasons. But Sanchez remains the man, as coach Rex Ryan has insisted he would be.



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