Assuming he undergoes shoulder surgery as expected, Mark Sanchez’ time with the New York Jets will be at an end. That means that, at the end of the 2013 campaign, the four-year starting quarterback will hit the open market.
Once he splashes into the free agency pool, one team that could be interested in Sanchez is the Oakland Raiders.
At this moment, they boast a quarterback situation that is arguably the worst in the NFL.
Even after Terrelle Pryor’s surprisingly-strong performance in Week 1, his lack of passing prowess will eventually catch up to him as defenses figure out how to slow him down on the ground. As soon as his ability to run is nullified, his biggest weakness is forced to the forefront.
Behind him on the depth chart is Matt Flynn, who has lost two starting jobs in the last two years. It’s becoming crystal clear that he’s nothing more than a backup who had one great game, and the Raiders know he’s not a long-term option.
While I’ve been a big fan of Matt McGloin since he joined the Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent, there’s currently no reason to believe that he can start for Oakland for an extended period of time. The other rookie quarterback, Tyler Wilson, has been a major disappointment thus far and might never develop into an NFL-caliber passer.
As you can tell, it’s not a pretty situation.
More than likely, the Raiders are going to have a Top 5 pick when the 2014 NFL Draft rolls around next May. Assuming that’s the case, they’ll likely spend their first-round pick on a quarterback. No matter who they draft (Teddy Bridgewater maybe?), the rookie will likely get the starting nod from Day 1, but the Raiders will need a competent passer in that No. 2 role.
That’s where a player like Sanchez comes in.
As long as they can get him at a reasonable price, the Raiders would be smart to sign Sanchez as an experienced veteran backup who can help the incoming rookie learn the game. He wouldn’t be much of an option to start, but would provide a better fallback plan than most of the veterans you’ll typically find via free agency.
Let’s also remember that the Raiders have a thing for former USC quarterbacks. They’ve already employed Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer in recent years. Third time is a charm, right?
The hard truth is that Sanchez might never be a starter in the NFL again. After four disappointing seasons with the Jets, the rest of the league is well aware of his physical – and mental – limitations.
Signing with the Raiders would be an ideal situation for Sanchez, who could collect a check, hold a clipboard and keep himself out of spotlight. At this point in his career, that might be the best gig he can get.