Jets release quarterback Mark Sanchez, sign free-agent QB Michael Vick
The 33-year-old Vick was the best of the remaining quarterbacks on the market, though the dots seemed to connect him and the Jets even prior to this move. Vick was bumped out of the starting job in Philadelphia by injury and later Nick Foles, then hit free agency in search of a starting opportunity.
He has found it in New York, where he likely will compete with Geno Smith for the No. 1 gig. The veteran Vick has to be considered the favorite to land the role, given Smith's struggles as a rookie during the Jets' 8-8 showing in 2013.
It’s official. We’ve signed QB Michael Vick. MORE: http://t.co/GgNm05Zqmz pic.twitter.com/6oPKsIrFXl
— New York Jets (@nyjets) March 21, 2014
"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 in a team press release. "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."
Odds are, the Jets may need both QBs before all is said and done. Vick has finished a full season just once: 2006. He did not play more than 13 games during any of his four years in Philadelphia.
Vick's deal reportedly is for $5 million and just one season, meaning he could shop his talents again next offseason if 2014 is a success. The short-team deal also prevents the Jets from having to commit to either Smith or Vick before they're ready to do so.
Sanchez, meanwhile, was due a $2 million bonus if he remained on the Jets' roster as of March 25, so GM John Idzik cut ties and saved his team that money.
The Jets will clear another $8.3 million off their 2014 cap with this move, though they'll take a $4.8 million dead money hit. Idzik may have been holding out hope that another team would step up with a trade offer for Sanchez, but the last hope -- if there ever was one -- may have been extinguished earlier in the day when Oakland sent a sixth-round pick to Houston for QB Matt Schaub.
Sanchez finishes his New York career with a 33-29 record as a starter, plus a 4-2 mark in the playoffs. Those numbers are fairly impressive on their own, but Sanchez was less a leader than a placeholder on those teams (see: 12 TDs to 20 interceptions during an 2009 playoff season, Sanchez's rookie year). He continued to struggle badly with turnovers throughout his stint as the starter, tossing 18 interceptions in both '11 and '12. An injury this past preseason fully opened the door for Smith to swipe the No. 1 gig.
Swapping in Vick for Sanchez on the roster constitutes a clear upgrade, even as the injury-prone Vick heads toward his final NFL seasons. Earlier this offseason, the Jets added WR Eric Decker to the mix, signifying another substantial step forward for an offense that had myriad issues in 2013.
Will the big-ticket moves be enough to get Rex Ryan and his team over the top with a return to the playoffs next season? Time will tell, but Ryan's offensive attack could be far more imposing than it has been in recent seasons.