The Mark Sanchez Era has officially ended.
The Jets released the veteran quarterback on Friday, signaling the end of his rollercoaster tenure in green and white. The move helps make room for former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who signed with the Jets on Friday evening. The Jets announced the Vick signing moments after the Sanchez release.
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"I'd like to thank Mark for everything he's done for this team and me personally," head coach Rex Ryan said. "We were rookies together and had some early success, becoming the first rookie head coach and quarterback to go to back-to-back championship games. We experienced a lot together and I really appreciate Mark. He's a great player, a great teammate, and I wish him nothing but the best."
Terms of Vick's deal were not announced by the team.
"It means a lot to have the chance to come in and play for a great organization that had a lot of success last year and being on the brink of doing some good things," Vick said. "Maybe I can come here and be an asset whenever my number's called. I'm excited, I'm elated, and I feel like this is a great opportunity for me and my family."
At age 33, he's still young enough to be a viable quarterback, either as a starter or as Geno Smith's backup. He knows offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's system better than any quarterback on the Jets' roster, having worked with him with the Eagles.
Vick showed last year, after being replaced by Nick Foles, that he would not be a locker-room disruption regardless of whether he starts.
"We are excited to acquire Michael Vick," said Mornhinweg. "He's a great talent who's won many games, including playoff games, in this league. He has the respect of both his teammates and opponents. He's here in a role where he's going to compete and push Geno Smith to become the very best that he can be. Michael will be able to go in and play at a high level and a winning level if called upon."
It was a foregone conclusion the Jets would release Sanchez, considering his hefty contract. But the front office kept its plans for the QB under wraps for quite some time. Sanchez, 27, was due to earn a $2 million roster bonus on Tuesday and also carried a $13.1-million cap charge in 2014. By releasing him, however, the team saved $8.3 million.
The Jets traded up 12 spots to draft Sanchez, selecting him fifth overall in the 2009 NFL draft. Despite his penchant for turnovers, the Jets reached the AFC Championship game in his first two seasons. But the Jets haven't earned a playoff berth since.
The writing appeared to be on the wall for Sanchez after a shaky 2012 season, in which he committed the infamous "Butt Fumble" and dashed their playoff hopes with a five-turnover performance against the Titans in Week 15. The Jets finished 6-10 that year.
Sanchez's long-term status with the team seemed all the more tenuous when he entered the 2013 offseason in a training-camp competition with second-round pick Geno Smith and then suffered a season-ending right shoulder injury in the third week of the preseason.
Sanchez was 33-29 as a starter for the Jets. He threw for 12,092 passing yards (1,028-for-1,867) and 68 touchdowns and also had 69 interceptions.