Sanchez Signs Deal
New York, NY - The New York Jets and quarterback Mark Sanchez reached an agreement on a five-year contract Wednesday.
The Jets made the announcement while Sanchez, the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft in April, was still at practice during the afternoon session of minicamp.
``This is just the beginning,'' Sanchez said after practice. ``I'll be working everyday to justify this contract.''
Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available, but it was expected to be for quite a bit less than the $41.7 million in guarantees Detroit gave top pick Matthew Stafford as part of a six-year deal worth up to $78 million.
``This allows for two things,'' Sanchez said. ``First, it's one huge thing behind me, a big weight lifted off all of our shoulders. They know that I'm all about football and that's all that I have to focus on now. Secondly, it allows me to get involved in the community here and back home.''
Sanchez led Southern California to a Rose Bowl victory over Penn State with a record-setting performance in his final college game. He's competing with veteran Kellen Clemens for the Jets' starting job, up for grabs after the retirement of Brett Favre.
``The one thing that really comes to my mind is, breath of fresh air and, wow, let's go now,'' Sanchez said. ``Let's really compete for this job and let's get into camp. I'll be in on time and I have nothing to worry about there. It's time to focus on football.''
New York's last two top picks, linebacker Vernon Gholston and cornerback Darrelle Revis, reported to training camp late while trying to negotiate deals.
``We had some discussions a few weeks ago,'' general manager Mike Tannenbaum said of Sanchez's representatives. ``I give them a lot of credit. We were trying to create a sense of urgency, even though it's still early. ... We didn't think there was any need to wait if both sides could create that sense of urgency and if both sides could come up with a deal that was good for both sides.''
Added Sanchez: ``It sends the right message. It's not in my makeup to hold out like that. That would've just been terrible for me.''
Sanchez has impressed at times during organized team activities and minicamp practices, showing lots of poise, confidence and good decision-making skills. He and Clemens have been about even in their competition.
gain confidence as you go,'' Sanchez said earlier Wednesday. ``Now I am starting to really feel the defense and see what is going on. As difficult as our defense can be I am starting to get an idea.''
The Jets made a bold draft-day move to get Sanchez, acquiring the fifth overall pick from Cleveland and former coach Eric Mangini for their first-round pick, their second-rounder (No. 52), and defensive end Kenyon Coleman, safety Abram Elam and quarterback Brett Ratliff.
Sanchez went 14-2 as a starter with the Trojans. His lack of experience - he had only one full season as a starter - had some questioning whether he was truly ready for the NFL, but the Jets loved what they saw of him in private workouts and a classroom session in a hotel room at the owners' meetings in California in March.
After drafting Sanchez, coach Rex Ryan said there would be an open competition for the quarterback job.
``We've got two really good quarterbacks, and the competition is going to be fierce,'' Ryan said on the first day of minicamp Tuesday. ``At training camp, it's going to be a great battle.''
Sanchez already is becoming a fan favorite, with several fans in the crowd at minicamp wearing his No. 6 jersey. He also has gotten lots of attention, befitting that of a budding star in New York, with a swimsuit spread in GQ magazine, throwing out the first pitch at a Mets game and tabloids wondering about his love life.
But Sanchez says he's concentrating on his game on the field.
``I think that more than anything, the next couple of days are vital,'' he said. ``I have to show that I'm really coming along from rookie camp. Then next week, we have rookie OTAs for first- and second-year guys and rookies. With all of the veterans gone, that is my chance to really take charge and assume command of the offense.''
Posted: 6/10/09 8:15PM ET