Sources: Playoff wins to earn QBs cash
Two of the NFL's young, up-and-coming quarterbacks clinched playoff berths in Week 16, and it could provide both an opportunity to earn a lot of extra money by season's end.
According to multiple sources, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens could make more than $2 million combined this year in postseason contract incentives. Both quarterbacks are coming off the best season of their careers and lead two teams with the potential to do damage in the playoffs.
The Jets (10-5) clinched the sixth seed in the AFC despite Sunday's 38-34 loss to the Chicago Bears. The Ravens (11-4) have the fifth seed with an outside chance to win the AFC North division and the second seed with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals (4-11) and a loss by the Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4) to the Cleveland Browns (5-10) Sunday.
With the playoffs fast approaching, here is a breakdown of how both players could earn potential millions with a deep run in the postseason:
• Sanchez, New York's No. 5 overall pick in 2009, could make a maximum of $1.875 million if he leads the Jets to a Super Bowl XLV victory on Feb. 6 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The quarterback still can pocket a hefty bonus even if New York falls short of winning a title.
The Jets will pay Sanchez $250,000 for each playoff victory, starting in the wild-card round. Therefore, if Sanchez leads the Jets to the Super Bowl and doesn't win it, he will make an additional $750,000 in postseason bonuses. Sanchez would get the full, $1.875 million for winning the Lombardi trophy, which the Jets haven't done since 1968, prior to the AFL/NFL merger.
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Both quarterbacks are having solid seasons. Flacco is seventh in the NFL with a 94.6 passer rating and has thrown for 3,497 yards, 25 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.
Sanchez has set career highs for yards (3,291) and touchdowns (17) in his second season. He's been dealing with a shoulder injury and his status is still to be determined for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills.
James Walker covers the AFC North for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter at espnafc_north.
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