ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Mark Sanchez said Monday he’s “battle-tested” and ready to be the Denver Broncos‘ starting quarterback. John Elway, the team’s chief football decision-maker, told Sanchez he can earn the job.
“Get in here and compete your butt off for a starting role,” Sanchez said. “I’m battled-tested; I’ve been through the fire.”
In the wake of Peyton Manning’s retirement and Brock Osweiler‘s departure in free agency, the Broncos shipped a conditional seventh-round draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire Sanchez. The former first-round selection by the New York Jets has started 81 games overall — regular-season and playoffs combined — and instantly moves to the top of the team’s depth chart at quarterback.
Elway called Sanchez’s acquisition “the first step.” The team has been in negotiations to add another veteran quarterback: the Broncos have spoken to free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick and talked to the San Francisco 49ers about a trade for Colin Kaepernick.
The Broncos will also give serious consideration to selecting a quarterback in the first two days of April’s NFL draft. Sanchez said he was aware of all those possibilities and he welcomes them.
“C’mon, let’s go, let’s compete, man,” Sanchez said. “That’s what he said on the phone and that was one of the first things John Elway said to me … I’m not going to let anything slow me down.”
Sanchez, who played for a Jets team that advanced to the AFC Championship Game in the 2009 and 2010 seasons — when he was 23 and 24 years old — has not started more than eight games in a season since 2012.
He has occasionally battled bouts of ill-timed interceptions, and he had an infamous butt fumble against the New England Patriots in a Thanksgiving Day game in 2012. But the Broncos see Sanchez as a 29-year-old quarterback with six playoff starts who can still repair his game.
In support of Sanchez, Elway has cited Sanchez’s leadership qualities and the fact that any Broncos quarterback will play in an offense with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders at wide receiver. Both players have had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
“I want to win, I really want to win, and I’m so lucky to be in a spot like this. … Every waking moment, that’s what I’m thinking about, what an opportunity here.”
“[I’ve] thrown to Demaryius before in the offseason,” Sanchez said. “What an opportunity to have two wideouts like that.”
Sanchez said he’s with the Broncos “to win.”
“I’ve seen a lot in this league, I’m not married, I don’t have a girlfriend, I don’t have kids, I just want to play ball,” Sanchez said. “I want to win, I really want to win, and I’m so lucky to be in a spot like this. … Every waking moment, that’s what I’m thinking about, what an opportunity here.”
Sanchez played in only four games last season for the Eagles — he started two — and looked to be headed into the team’s offseason program as the No. 3 quarterback on the roster. The Eagles spent $38 million to sign Sam Bradford, then agreed to a $21 million contract for Chase Daniel as the team’s backup.