Could Free Agent QB Mark Sanchez Interest the Packers?

Recently released quarterback Mark Sanchez might interest Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers.

Following a season irreparably damaged by a botched backup quarterback situation, Packers GM Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy will take corrective measures to prevent a repeat performance. One of those steps could be to reserve three spots on the 53 rather than the customary two for the position. Another might be to upgrade the position in free agency.

The latter seemed unlikely at the conclusion of the season. The solid but unspectacular Matt Flynn, a mid-year addition following an injury to Seneca Wallace, managed to win just enough games to keep Green Bay in the playoff hunt. Given the locker room's faith in Flynn, his relationship with starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and the low cost to re-sign him, most assumed a deal would materialize early in free agency.

Yet, the Packers have yet to come to terms on a new deal for Flynn. This despite the veteran quarterback failing to generate any interest on the open market, at least none that's been reported. As it's unlikely that Flynn is holding off on signing a new deal without other offers, this suggests that the Packers are the side holding up contract discussions.

So why would the Packers wait on re-signing the backup quarterback that saved the 2013 season? The answer might be that the front office is hoping to land a perceived upgrade at the position.

As we learned last year when Vince Young signed midway through training camp, a quarterback Thompson graded highly in the draft process might intrigue the Packers. However, just about any quarterback who might have interested the Packers moved off the open market the past few weeks.

That is, until the Jets released Mark Sanchez earlier this weekend.

Five years into his NFL career, Sanchez remains somewhat of an unknown. Once the top high school quarterback in the nation and a top performer during his lone starting season at USC, Sanchez undoubtedly possesses considerably better raw tools than any passer Green Bay could find elsewhere in free agency. But whether due to a lack of quality coaching or personal failure, he never developed into the elite player the Jets thought they were getting when they made him the fifth overall pick in the draft.

Could the Packers, a team with one of the league's best-regarded offensive coaching staffs, turn Sanchez's career around?

It could be an endeavor worth their time. Sanchez endured three different offensive coordinators during his five years in New York, two of which were the uninspiring Brian Schottenheimer and Tony Sparano. If Sanchez were given the opportunity to work with Mike McCarthy, Tom Clements, and Alex Van Pelt, perhaps the mistakes that doomed his stint with the Jets could be corrected, and the Packers could net themselves a high quality backup. And the sooner Sanchez can arrive in Green Bay the better, as the Packers learned the dangers of waiting too long to bring in a backup quarterback last offseason.

The main obstacle for the Packers should they decide to pursue Sanchez is potential interest from the Cleveland Browns whose new head coach Mike Pettine shares history with the quarterback. Pettine served as the Jets' defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2012, Sanchez's first four years in the league. With the Browns currently without an obvious top quarterback, Sanchez could be enticed by the opportunity to start.

It's also worth pointing out that a move to acquire Sanchez is predicated on the premise that he graded out well on Thompson's board back in 2009. Thompson trusts his judgment and that of his scouts, which is why he routinely signs street free agents the team rated highly in the draft process. If Thompson was not a Sanchez believer five years ago, he's unlikely to be one now.

As with any of Thompson's dealings, the ultimate decider is value. If he believes Sanchez's struggles were mainly the results of a bad situation in New York rather than personal ineptitude, a one-year deal could materialize with the Packers.

Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He also serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Hook'em Headlines. His work has previously appeared on Beats Per Minute, Lombardi Ave, and College Hoops Net.
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