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Jets have a decision to make on Sanchez

New York Giants v New York Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 24: Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets is grabbed then sacked by by Dave Tollefson #71 of the New York Giants during the third quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium on December 24, 2011 in East Rutherford. New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

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As the New York Jets begin to process the reality that there most likely will be no back-door path to the playoffs followed by a couple of unlikely road wins in the postseason, one of the factors the franchise will confront is the future of quarterback Mark Sanchez.

A league source tells PFT that the Jets are beginning to realize that Sanchez may not be the answer at the position. That said, the Jets will not publicly acknowledge even the possibility that Sanchez is falling out of favor.

How could they acknowledge it? Coach Rex Ryan already has declared that Sanchez will be the quarterback for as long as Ryan is the coach, a proclamation that could eventually turn out to be as reliable as pretty much every other guarantee Rex has made.

Still, we’re told that the Jets will quietly explore their options, refraining from dropping any hints until they’re ready to pull the trigger -- if that’s what they decide to do.

Working against Sanchez is a base salary for 2012 that jumps to $8.5 million. Though that’s less than half of what the top quarterbacks are paid, Sanchez arguably has performed far less than less than half of the top quarterbacks.

Regardless of whether the Jets decide to keep Sanchez in the short term, a long-term decision is looming. Drafted in 2009, his five-year contract expires after the 2013 season.

And in the end, there’s a chance Ryan’s assessment of the situation will be accurate. If the Jets keep Sanchez for one more year and if the Jets fail to make the postseason again, Sanchez possibly will end up being the quarterback for Ryan’s full tenure as coach because Ryan’s tenure as coach could end.