Clemens believes Jets’ QB competition is still open

Newly signed Jets QB Mark Sanchez (right) will be competing against fellow QB Kellen Clemens for the starting job this preseason. (Getty Images)

Rookie Mark Sanchez (right), who just signed a lucrative five-year contract, is veteran Kellen Clemens' competition for the Jets' starting QB job. (Getty Images)

One day after the Jets’ rookie quarterback signed a five-year contract that includes $28 million guaranteed, the team’s other quarterback responded for the first time about the mega deal. It’s just the latest offseason glimpse into the quarterback competition between media darling Mark Sanchez and holdover Kellen Clemens in New York.

Many in the business believe the Jets’ investment in Sanchez (including the cost of moving up in the draft), and the fact that his deal was done so early, make him the front-runner for the starting job. NFL Network’s Jamie Dukes is among them. But Clemens isn’t taking the approach that the highest-paid quarterback will be the starter. He’s operating under the directive from first-year Jets coach Rex Ryan that it’s an open competition.

“From what I have been told, and the only thing that matters in this competition, is that the best player will play,” Clemens said. “They never said that the highest-paid player is going to play, but the best player is going to play. So, that’s how I am going to approach it. If they change their approach, then I will change my approach. But, as of now, that is where it is, and we are going to continue to move forward.”

Sanchez backed up Clemens’ assertion.

“Coach Ryan is clear about our goals here — we want to be playing in February in the championship,” Sanchez said. “He’ll put the best players on the field to do that, money or no money, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think any intensity is lost there with Coach Ryan. I think he is great about it, and the other coaches will help him decide (who will start).”

Clemens and Sanchez happen to share the same agent, David Dunn. That fact wasn’t lost on Clemens when he was asked about the size of Sanchez’s contract.

“He was No. 5 overall (in the draft), so I figured it was going to be big,” Clemens said. “I am excited; his agent did a really good job for him. He is (also) my agent, so hopefully someday … you know. We will see where we are at.”

Thursday marked the last day of a three-day mandetory minicamp for the Jets. The team isn’t scheduled to take the field again until training camp begins July 30.

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