The writing was on the wall regarding quarterback Mark Sanchez's murky future with the New York Jets entering the 2013 NFL season, but the team has finally made the split official by releasing the once-heralded signal-caller, according to the team's Twitter account:
Mark Sanchez has been released.— New York Jets (@nyjets) March 21, 2014
New York Daily News reporter Manish Mehta added more from Rex Ryan:
Rex Ryan on Mark Sanchez (via statement): "I’d like to thank Mark for everything he’s done for this team & me personally." #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) March 21, 2014
A few minutes after releasing Sanchez, the Jets announced the signing of Michael Vick:
Sanchez's tenure in the Big Apple started off great as he led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game in each of his first two seasons, but he has been unable to recapture that magic in recent years, which ultimately led to his termination.
The Jets made Sanchez the No. 5 overall pick out of USC in the 2009 NFL draft due to his immense potential, but it never fully translated to the NFL level because of Sanchez's penchant for making mistakes.
He regressed to rock bottom during the 2012 season by throwing for 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions while losing eight of 14 fumbles. Sanchez also posted a career-low QBR of 25.8.
Many would probably argue that New York's success over Sanchez's first two seasons happened in spite of him. Head coach Rex Ryan's defense was among the league's best at that time, and the onus was usually placed on that unit while Sanchez was asked to manage the game.
Was releasing Sanchez a smart move by the Jets?
Sanchez never completed more than 57 percent of his passes or threw fewer than 13 interceptions in a single season while with the Jets, and his career-high QBR is 49.2, which means that Sanchez has been a below-average quarterback by statistical standards.
Despite Sanchez's dismal 2012 campaign, he was in line to perhaps keep the starting job in 2013 thanks to a strong preseason. Sanchez suffered a shoulder injury prior to the start of the regular season, though, which resulted in him being placed on season-ending injured reserve.
Rookie second-round pick Geno Smith started in Sanchez's absence for the entire season, and while he certainly had his ups and downs, it seems as though Ryan and the rest of the Jets' brass is more than willing to give him another year at the helm.
That obviously made Sanchez expendable, and it seemed inevitable that the Jets would release him eventually. One person who still believes that Sanchez can be a productive player in the NFL is former Jets linebacker Bart Scott, via to Kristian Dyer of the Metro:
It doesn't mean we've seen the last of him. Remember Steve Young? Quarterbacks can play another 12 years in this league. The story isn't completed yet; the book isn't even half-written yet. Hopefully he goes to a place where he has some weapons with great coaches, great coordinators and help continue to develop him. I don't think it is over for Mark. It just may not be New York for him right now.
Cutting Sanchez was ultimately an obvious move for general manager John Idzik and the rest of the organization, however. Sanchez would have counted against the cap for $13.1 million had the Jets retained him, but that number goes all the way down to $4.8 million now that he has been released, per Michael J. Fensom of The Star-Ledger.
It simply wouldn't make sense to pay a backup quarterback more than $13 million, and that is precisely what Sanchez would have been behind Smith.
Sanchez now finds himself on the open market, which seemed unfathomable just a few short years ago when Jets fans and media dubbed him "Sanchize." It's unlikely that teams will be falling over each other to sign him, but NFL Network's Ian Rapoport suggests that the thin quarterback market could increase his value:
For QB-needy teams — Vikings, Texans, Jaguars, etc. — the draft is now really the only option. Also, Mark Sanchez/Michael Vick’s stock soar— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 2, 2014
It's difficult to imagine a team signing Sanchez to be anything more than a backup, but there are so few high-quality quarterbacks in the league that you never know. After Cincinnati Bengals signal-caller Andy Dalton's awful performance in the team's playoff loss to the San Diego Chargers, ESPN's Mike Greenberg laid down an interesting scenario:
Wherever Sanchez ends up, it won't be with the Jets. Sanchez certainly enjoyed some huge successes as a Jet, but there is no question that his tenure with the team was ultimately a bust.
There is still time for Sanchez to make something of his career; however, the chips are stacked against him due to the public perception that he is incapable of being a quality starter in the NFL.
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