Former fifth overall pick Mark Sanchez was released by the New York Jets on Friday night, ending the 27-year-old quarterback’s rollercoaster, and often tumultuous, tenure with the club.
Back in 2009, when the Jets selected him in the first round out of USC, Sanchez, seen as the next coming of the franchise quarterback, was quickly dubbed “Sanchize.” But five seasons and 69 interceptions later, Sanchez now enters the free agency for the first time in his career.
Essentially, Sanchez switched places with former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Jets. Vick entered the offseason as the most prominent free-agent quarterback.
Sanchez does own a winning record as a starter, including four playoff wins, and likely shoots to the top of a free agent quarterback list that includes Josh Freeman, Shaun Hill, Kevin Kolb, and Matt Flynn.
But Sanchez will also have to overcome doubts over the shoulder injury that kept him out all of last season.
If Sanchez is more focused on winning that starting right away, he will likely be relegated to a back-up role. One team in need of a back-up is the Seattle Seahawks, who do have Tavaris Jackson but he’s only signed to a one year deal.
Same goes for the Carolina Panthers, who re-signed Derek Anderson to a one-year deal, but with Cam Newton’s ankle injury, the team could use some extra depth at quarterback.
The St. Louis Rams could also be in need of another quarterback if Sam Bradford struggles to come back from the torn ACL that ended his season. The former No. 1 pick has also been on thin ice with the team for the past two years.
The Oakland Raiders were in need of a starter, but their recent trade for Matt Schaub probably nixes any chance for Sanchez.
Another issue is what kind of contract Sanchez expects to sign. The Jets saved more than $8 million by releasing him, but back-ups aren’t exactly inking lucrative deals. Josh McCown and Matt Cassel each signed two-year, $10 million deals with Tampa Bay and Minnesota, respectively.
In other news, rumors are flying that the Jets could even make a play for Vick’s former Eagles teammate and top receiver DeSean Jackson.
The Newark Star Ledger cited comments and videos Jackson sent out via Twitter after Vick signed with the Jets.
The Jets have been in serious need of a top-flight receiver for quite some time, and Jackson was one of the best in the NFL last year with 82 receptions for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.
Jackson also tweeted a picture of himself and Carolina’s Newton from the Pro Bowl Draft earlier this year. Just like the Jets, the Panthers have been looking for a wide out to pair with Newton, but were severely hampered in free agency with just $7 million in salary cap space.
Last week, a report surfaced that the Eagles were seeking no less than a third-round pick for Jackson, who was reportedly told the team was only listening to offers and not actively shopping him. The New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers were the two rumored clubs, but nothing new has surfaced with either team.