Mark Sanchez's Injury Puts His New York Jets and NFL Career at Risk
According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, the fifth-year quarterback has a labral tear in his shoulder and will likely have season-ending surgery. He sustained the injury in the preseason when he was left in the game until the fourth quarter.
While he was likely in line to begin the season as the Jets' starter, it is not clear that he deserved it.
After reaching the AFC Championship Game in each of his first two seasons, things have not been quite as good in the past couple of years.
In the last two seasons, Sanchez has only managed to lead his team to a 14-17 record as a starter while his numbers have progressively gotten worse. Last season, he had the second-worst quarterback rating in the NFL while posting a 13-18 touchdown-to-interception rate.
ESPN Stats and Information also provided this look at the quarterback's career:
Mark Sanchez: may have season-ending shoulder surgery. He has an NFL-worst 36.1 Total QBR + 55.1 comp pct since his rookie 2009 season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 12, 2013
While he did post better numbers than rookie Geno Smith during the preseason (90.0 quarterback rating to 54.6), it is hard to imagine the veteran holding on to the starting job for too long.
Selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, Smith represents the future at quarterback for the Jets.
What will happen to Mark Sanchez in 2014?
The rookie had an impressive debut against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, completing 24 of his 38 passes for 256 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He also added 47 rushing yards in the win.
While there will likely be some stumbles over the course of the season, New York has to see what it has in the young player. Unless there is an injury, Smith should play the rest of the year in order to gain experience and prove himself for the future.
This means that it is unlikely Sanchez would be able to earn a start even if he were healthy. According to Dan Hanzus of NFL.com, the quarterback will try to rehab his shoulder instead of getting surgery in an attempt to return this season.
However, this might be a pointless effort to regain a job that is not available.
To make matters worse for the Jets, they are still paying a lot of guaranteed money for a player not contributing on the field:
Mark Sanchez will be paid $8.75M by the Jets this season. That's more than RG3, A. Luck, R. Wilson, C. Newton and C. Kaepernick COMBINED.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 12, 2013
It is unlikely New York will want to continue paying this salary after the season if he is no longer a starter. As such, he may well find himself out of a job.
This begs the question of whether Sanchez can find another team if he becomes a free agent.
In the last few years, the quarterback position has gotten much stronger with the influx of young talent. Quarterbacks like Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck have proven to be franchise players, and those that have not yet will still get plenty of chances to prove they can be.
Teams that do not have a quality quarterback in place would be smarter to find one in the draft and develop him than to take a chance on someone like Sanchez as a starter.
Based on his lack of success in recent years, it is hard to imagine a team trusting him to do better after a major shoulder injury.
An organization might want to bring Sanchez in as a quality backup, but it is unlikely he finds a place where he can step in as a starter. Unless he gets an opportunity due to injury, he might never start in the NFL again.
This is an unfortunate turn of events for a former first-round pick with a once-promising career. He likely missed out on his last opportunity to be a starter at this level again.
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