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Former Jets QB Mark Sanchez retires, joins ESPN

New York Jets v New York Giants Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Former Jets first round pick Mark Sanchez has decided to retire and join ESPN as a football analyst.

Before there was Sam Darnold, Sanchez was the USC quarterback on whom Jets fans pinned their hopes and dreams.

Expectations were sky high when the Jets traded up for Sanchez in 2009. The team had a lot of early success. Sanchez’s first two years ended in trips to the AFC Championship Game. While his play fluctuated between inconsistent and outright terrible during those two seasons, he did just enough in key moments for a team with a top defense and run game to get by.

After the team got to the postseason, Sanchez played quality football, posting a 94.3 passer rating and 9-3 TD-INT ratio.

By his third year a cap crunch left the Jets unable to surround him with an elite supporting cast. Asked to carry more of the load, Sanchez crumbled. He threw 7 interceptions over the final three weeks of the season, and the Jets lost all three games to miss the postseason. The locker room he was supposed to lead fell apart.

The Jets doubled down on him in the 2012 offseason, signing him to a lucrative extension, but it proved to be a mistake. A disastrous year led to a December benching and the drafting of Geno Smith. Sanchez suffered a season-ending injury against the Giants in a preseason game in 2013, which ended his Jets career. He was released after the season.

He stuck around the league as a backup serving stints with five other teams. He had some moderate success for a stretch in 2014 with the Eagles, inserted into the lineup after a Nick Foles injury, but that was short-lived. His limitations ultimately played a major role in Philadelphia missing the Playoffs that year.

Sanchez remains a consequential part of Jets history. His tenure was largely a failure. Mark’s inability to develop into a franchise quarterback cost multiple people their jobs. In many ways the Jets are still dealing with the ramifications of his selection.

But his legacy is a bit more nuanced. While the overall product was not good, he still helped to engineer some of the greatest moments in recent franchise history.