Mark Sanchez signs deal with Philadelphia Eagles
Mark Sanchez could have gone elsewhere, but he wanted to be a part of what Chip Kelly is building in Philadelphia.
Hours after signing his one-year deal with the Eagles -- that reportedly could be worth $4 million based on incentives -- a clean-shaven Sanchez addressed reporters during a news conference Friday at the team's facility.
Coincidentally, the Jets hosted a circuslike news conference for newly signed backup Tim Tebow two years ago. But Sanchez made it clear he didn't sign with Philly to make waves.
"Coming here, I'm not stirring up a controversy," he said. "I'm here to help the team win."
Sanchez -- who began the news conference by thanking the Eagles' front office and "everyone" on the Jets, including former general manager Mike Tannenbaum -- said he harbors "no hard feelings" for his former team.
"They've been so good to me," Sanchez said of the Jets, who released him a week ago in order to sign former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. "And it's been a different kind of transition, but some great memories there. Love that team, love that organization. And I'm happy to make the transition and excited to be in a new spot."
Sanchez, the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, will join a quarterback group composed of starter Nick Foles, Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne, all of whom Sanchez already has relationships with. (He and Foles share the same agent; Sanchez hosted Barkley during his college visit to USC; and Kinne spent time with the Jets during their 2012 training camp.)
Sanchez stressed that he has the utmost respect for Foles, who supplanted Vick as the full-time starter last season. But like any quarterback, Sanchez said he believes he can be a starter.
Because the Jets waited so long to release him, Sanchez's job options were fairly limited compared with other quarterbacks who signed earlier in free agency. Nevertheless, the former Jet said he received "a handful of offers." The Eagles, however, were "the best fit" for him.
"I feel like this team, this coach, the kind of offensive firepower they have is just an exciting element to being here in Philadelphia," Sanchez said. "I think coach [Chip] Kelly really is on the cutting edge of the NFL. He's just one of those guys who just has, really, an exciting vision for the future. I think he's on a constant pursuit of a competitive edge, he's an excitable person. I think as an offensive mind, I'm going to do nothing but learn here, working with offensive minds . . . This is an incredible opportunity."
And the feeling appears mutual.
"I've said many times that we will always look to add quality players at the quarterback position," Kelly, who faced Sanchez during his collegiate coaching days at Oregon, said in a statement on the team's website. "We consider it a key position in this game, so having the chance to add Mark to that group was a no-brainer for us . . . We really like what he brings to the table from an experience standpoint. I also had the chance to see Mark play in college and have always had respect for his game and athletic ability."
Sanchez, 27, missed all of last season after suffering a torn labrum in his right shoulder during a preseason game against the Giants. And as a result of his injury -- and his sky-high salary-cap number for 2014 -- the Jets released him.
Sanchez said that his shoulder will be 100 percent by the time organized team activities begin. "Oh yeah, I'll be fine," he said. "I feel good. I'll be ready to go. The physical was great. The doctor was pleasantly surprised."
A source told Newsday on Thursday night that Sanchez had passed his physical and agreed to a deal with the Eagles. Friday, the signing became official, a move that completes a backup quarterback swap between the Jets and Eagles.
Asked about Vick signing with his former team, Sanchez joked: "I think we passed each other on the train. We high-fived, wished each other luck."
The Jets -- who signed Vick to a one-year, $4-million guaranteed deal -- saved $8.3 million by cutting Sanchez. The former Jet was due to earn a $2-million roster bonus Tuesday and also carried a $13.1-million cap charge for the upcoming season.
But despite his roller-coaster five years in Florham Park, Sanchez repeatedly said he's got nothing but love for the Jets.
"Most importantly, I have nothing but good things to say about the New York Jets," said Sanchez, who helped lead the Jets to appearances in the AFC title game in 2009 and 2010. "All I can remember are the great things. Was everything perfect? Absolutely not. It's not going to be perfect here. But I'm just excited about moving forward. I'm excited about everything we've accomplished in the past. [It's] amazing.
"All the pictures I still have, all the game balls and things like that, that stuff never goes away. It's not just turn your back and forget those guys. That was an amazing time, it was an amazing experience for me, my family, my community, everybody back home . . . . It's a different chapter. It's something new, but I'm not going to compare the two."