The maligned quarterback, who was once dubbed “The Sanchize” and drew early comparisons to Joe Namath, had season-ending surgery on his right shoulder Tuesday.
The procedure, which repaired a torn labrum, was performed by Dr. James Andrews, the team announced. Sanchez, who hasn’t played since being injured in the third preseason game, said he was advised by Andrews and other doctors to have surgery after seven weeks of rehabilitation.
“I’m very disappointed that I can’t be out there to help my team on the field,” Sanchez said in a statement, “but I’ll continue to help our team in whatever capacity I can.”
Whether that is the case beyond this season remains to be seen.
Sanchez, the team’s top draft pick out of Southern California in 2009, helped lead the Jets to consecutive trips to the AFC championship game in his first two seasons. While his overall numbers were far from eye-popping, his success with the team was unparalleled for a Jets quarterback in his first two seasons. With his good looks and big-time potential, many fans and media likened Sanchez to the next Broadway Joe.
But things really unraveled last season, culminating in him being benched for a game in favor of Greg McElroy. His 52 turnovers the last two years were the most in the NFL during that span, leading to concerns as to whether Sanchez could turn things around and live up to the expectations the Jets had when they made him the No. 5 overall pick.
Sanchez still has three years remaining on his contract, which included $8.25 million in guarantees this year, but it’s a strong possibility the Jets could make room under their salary cap next offseason by parting ways with him.
“Throughout this process, our goal has been to provide Mark every opportunity to return this season,” general manager John Idzik said in a statement. “He and our medical staff have worked very diligently to that end and now it has been concluded that surgery is required. He will have our full support for a complete recovery.”
Sanchez was placed on short-term injured reserve on Sept. 14, meaning he would not be able to play for eight weeks while he recovered. At that time, he thought he would still be able to return this season and possibly reclaim his starting job.
He acknowledged then that surgery was a possibility at some point, but doctors were encouraged by his rehab to that point.
“After over seven weeks of hard work and intense rehab, I’ve been advised by Dr. Andrews and other doctors that my shoulder injury clearly needs to be addressed surgically,” Sanchez said in the statement issued by the team. “The injury was recovering at an encouraging rate early on and I avoided surgery as long as I could.
“But, ultimately, I was counseled by the doctors that they simply would have to repair my shoulder.”