- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - The New York Jets and quarterback Mark Sanchez reached an agreement on a multiyear contract Wednesday.

Sanchez was the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft in April after leading Southern California to a Rose Bowl victory over Penn State with a record-setting performance. The quarterback is competing with veteran Kellen Clemens for the Jets’ starting job, up for grabs after the retirement of Brett Favre.

The Jets made the announcement while Sanchez was still at practice during the afternoon session of minicamp. 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.

New York’s last two top picks, linebacker Vernon Gholston and cornerback Darrelle Revis, reported to training camp late while trying to negotiate deals.

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.

“You 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, including the Rose Bowl win in January. 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.”

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