A breakup between Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets is seemingly imminent as the former No. 5 overall pick is set to hit free agency.
After leading Gang Green to a pair of back-to-back AFC Championship game appearances in 2009 and 2010, Sanchez regressed in his third and fourth years. The quarterback became all-too turnover prone, throwing 18 interceptions in both 2011 and 2012, and eventually fell out of favor in New York.
The Jets nabbed Geno Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft and made him the starter after Sanchez underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in the early part of the fall, unofficially ending his tenure with the team.
Because he’s owed $11 million ($9 million in base salary plus a $2 million roster bonus) in March, the Jets will all but certainly release Sanchez to free up some cap space and address their backup quarterback in free agency. But according to reports, there will be a pretty sizable market for the former first-rounder.
A coach of a team with a need at quarterback told the New York Post that Sanchez would “be the starter as soon as he walked in the door.” However, included in that same report, was an executive explaining Sanchez’s elevated value this year is due to a lack of quality quarterbacks available. “Supply and demand,” the executive told The Post.
Sanchez’s turnover total (52 between 2011 and 2012) and the fact that he is recovering from shoulder surgery are the two red flags as he hits the open market and competes with the likes of Michael Vick, Josh McCown, Chad Henne, and Josh Freeman for a gig.
One team already linked to Sanchez is the Oakland Raiders, who started Matt McGloin, Terrell Pryor, and Matt Flynn under center last season yet not one stood out enough to earn the gig in 2014. Sanchez hails from California, so a homecoming makes sense. ESPN speculated the Black and Silver are a good fit for the former Southern Cal product because it’ll allow Sanchez an opportunity to revitalize his career.
Other teams that may show interest in Sanchez — whether it’s to compete for a starting job or as a backup — could include the Jacksonville Jaguars, who may look to move on from Henne and Blaine Gabbert; Minnesota Vikings, who will lose Freeman and Matt Cassell; and Houston Texans, who will likely release Matt Schaub.