By Mark Cannizzaro
March 22, 2014 | 2:56pm
ST. LOUIS — In the end, after a five-year marriage that became rocky, the Jets’ treatment of Mark Sanchez was deplorable.
Breathe deeply, Sanchez haters. You know who you are, because you are everywhere. Based on the inflammatory Twitter reactions I received for voicing this same sentiment Friday about the poor timing of Sanchez’s release, I’m well aware that statement doesn’t sit well with you. I’m well aware the Jets made Sanchez a multi-millionaire, made him a star, a regular Page Six item for all the high-profile women he dated. That they drafted him perhaps higher (No. 5 overall) than he should have been with so little starting experience coming out of USC in 2009. That they gave him a ridiculous kiss-and-make-up contract extension in 2012 (with more than $20 million guaranteed) after their flirtation with Peyton Manning became public. I get all that. Hold off on the sad-story violin music for the fallen star who is financially set for life. What I do not understand is why, when the Jets knew all along — for months — they were going to move on from Sanchez going forward, they felt the need to bleed this thing out until Friday night, two weeks into free agency and with most teams already having addressed their quarterback vacancies.
By doing this, the Jets dramatically reduced Sanchez’s options for places to sign. Was that necessary?
You want to make the argument the Jets held onto Sanchez as insurance in case they were unable to sign Michael Vick? The Jets never had any intention of keeping Sanchez. They knew their fan base would revolt if Sanchez ever were under center again.
You want to make the argument it was the Jets’ prerogative to wait as long as they wanted — right up until his $2 million roster bonus deadline arrived on Tuesday — before releasing him? Of course it was, but does that make it right?
I get that the NFL, like every other professional sport, is a ruthless business and teams must look out for themselves first. But the way teams treat their players goes a long way toward helping them recruit top players.
A week ago, free-agent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie chose to sign with the Giants over the Jets after visiting both teams. Maybe it only was about the money for Rodgers-Cromartie, with the Giants offering a sweeter deal. But maybe it was a choice of one organization over the other, too.
Jets general manager John Idzik, for whom the jury remains very much out, has not proven himself to be a very good recruiter. See his failure to add a free agent cornerback to his depleted secondary despite a plentiful market and gads of salary cap space.
The Jets, using the age-old, lame-old public relations ploy when the objective is to attract the least attention possible, announced the Sanchez release on their Twitter account at 6:22 p.m. Friday night with the sports world otherwise immersed in NCAA Tournament basketball.
At 6:26 p.m., the Jets’ Twitter account sent out a canned Rex Ryan quote, reading: “I’d like to thank Mark for everything he’s done for this team and me personally.’’
At 6:32, they sent out a picture of Vick signing his one-year, $5 million contract to replace Sanchez.
For all the negatives that seem to override anything good he did as a Jet, Sanchez was a good employee.
Not Sanchez’s fault, yet it is affixed to his legacy as permanently as that tattoo on Ryan’s right arm of his wife wearing a Sanchez jersey as a nightie.
When Sanchez was put into that preseason game against the Giants in the fourth quarter last August — behind a backup offensive line, after he already had won the starting job — and got his right shoulder mangled, how often did you hear Sanchez complain about that publicly?
Never. The injury ended Sanchez’s season and, effectively, his career with the Jets. Yet Sanchez, to this day, never has taken a shot at the Jets for their amateur-hour handling of that situation.
As it turned out, amateur hour extended from that 2013 preseason game right up until 6:22 p.m. Friday night.