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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Mark Sanchez is willing to put his money where his mouth is.
The New York Jets quarterback said Tuesday he has already spoken to his agent about looking into possibly restructuring his contract to help the team re-sign players, such as wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards, as well as other free agents.
“Whatever we need to do to win, it’s on,” Sanchez said.
He is entering his third year and is due to make $14.75 million in base salary this season, but could make as much as $17.75 million with bonuses. Restructuring his deal could help relieve the Jets’ salary cap with teams operating at a cap of $120 million this year.
“I think our whole team feels that way,” Sanchez said, “(Darrelle) Revis, me, whoever, it doesn’t matter.”
Sanchez, who has helped lead Rex Ryan’s Jets to the AFC championship game in each of his first two seasons, would love to have both Holmes and Edwards back after connecting with them on and off the field.
“It was such a luxury to have both of them last year,” Sanchez said. “It’s almost unrealistic to have that kind of a receiving corps again. Whichever guys we get back, it’s going to be them playing really well, and me getting even better.”
Holmes, who had 52 catches for 746 yards and six touchdowns last season after being acquired from Pittsburgh, was the go-to guy he established himself to be while with the Steelers. He appears to be the Jets’ top priority in free agency and has already talked with the team, but he’ll likely get plenty of interest from several others, including Washington.
Edwards caught 53 passes for 904 yards and seven touchdowns, and has said he wants to stay in New York but he is also dealing with some legal issues. Edwards recently pleaded guilty to drunken driving in New York, and a hearing in Cleveland Municipal Court initially set for Aug. 8 was moved up to Wednesday. He will find out whether he’ll face a probation violation or possible jail time in Cleveland.
“We love them both,” owner Woody Johnson said of Holmes and Edwards as Jets players arrived at their facility Tuesday. “We’re going to have good wide receivers. I can promise you that, and obviously we want our guys back if we can get them.”
Sanchez said he has spoken to both Holmes and Edwards, but preferred to keep those conversations private.
“No doubt, they’re not the only ones who want to be here,” he said. “There’s plenty of free agents who would love to play here, and are probably calling Rex right now.”
Sanchez said letting the team know he’s willing to renegotiate his deal could be used as a selling point to help entice other free agents.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I’ll tell the guys upstairs this, too. They know that. Whatever it takes to win. If it’s throwing the ball left-handed, I’ll throw left-handed. It doesn’t matter. We need to win and we’ll get the right players.”
In a 40-second recorded voice message left for all Jets season ticket holders, Ryan told fans the team plans to have Sanchez let the football “fly a little more than we have in the past.” That declaration comes despite the fact Sanchez doesn’t really know who he’ll be throwing to just yet, other than veterans such as Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller.
“We better,” Sanchez said with a big grin. “No ... it could mean a million things, I have no idea. I think, for us to win, and take the next step, it’s going to require me improving. That’s a part of this whole learning process.
“That’s Rex’s deal: Just put a little more pressure on the quarterback.”