A game of what-ifs for Ryan, Sanchez in St. Louis

AP

Jets coach Rex Ryan has in many ways lashed his own career to Mark Sanchez at this point, but there was a real chance he’d have a different quarterback if things had broken a little differently.

As noted by Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com, Ryan was close to being the Rams head coach, and being in position to draft Sanchez there if he wanted him.

Ryan actually interviewed with then-Rams GM Bill Devaney the same day he met with Jets owner Woody Johnson and GM Mike Tannenbaum in January 2009.

“I don’t know if they want me to say,” Ryan said of the Rams job. “Just say I felt good about it.”

The Rams ended up hiring Steve Spagnuolo instead, firing him after three seasons and a 10-38 record.

Sanchez also said he thought the Rams might draft him second overall in 2009, though attempts to trade out of that spot were unsuccessful, and they ended up wasting the pick on right tackle Jason Smith, now a Jets backup.

“It sounded like it,” Sanchez said. “It sounded like things were getting close between there and even Seattle [fourth], talking to Seattle the day before the draft. They were talking about making a move up or drafting me that early.”

Of course, the Rams’ gamesmanship continued, as they tried to bluff Ryan into trading into the second spot themselves, with Devaney telling Ryan he’d have no quarterback if he didn’t make the deal for Sanchez.

Ryan said if they stayed put at the 17th spot, he’d draft wide receiver Percy Harvin and try to talk Brett Favre into coming back.

The Jets ended up making a less-costly deal with Cleveland for the fifth pick, getting Sanchez then, and triggering the events that led to the mess they’re in today.