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Sanchez, Mike T: Good Deal for Both Sides


Lots of top draft picks, their agents and the teams that select them walk the walk but don't talk the talk when it comes to getting deals done and getting the player to training camp on time.

But as far as Mark Sanchez and the Jets go, they are men of their word.

"This is a really special day for me and my family," Sanchez told a small gathering of reporters this evening after the Jets announced today that they reached agreement with the quarterback from Southern Cal on a contract. "We're thrilled about the deal and I think the Jets are, too. So that's exactly what you want. Both of us on the same page and a great relationship and hopefully the first of many."

As for his remarks shortly after the Jets traded up with Cleveland to select him with the fifth pick of the draft two months ago that he didn't intend to miss any camp, he said this deal "sends the right message. It's not in my makeup to hold out like that. That would've just been terrible for me. This just eliminates that whole factor."

General manager Mike Tannenbaum, who spoke briefly to reporters after Sanchez, echoed that sentiment.

"I think the agreement works well. I think there was good give-and-take like there always is," Tannenbaum said. "I'm really comfortable with the agreement. I think it's good for Mark and I think it's good for us as well."

The Jets didn't provide any details of the deal, although NFL Network has been reported to be a five-year contract for $50 million, which the network said would make it the largest contract in franchise history.

Sanchez responded to that distinction the same way as he does every other question about his place in Jets history — with seriousness, appreciation and respect.

"Obviously, I'm thankful to the Jets and the organization here," he said, "but this is just the beginning and that comes with a lot of responsibility, just like being the quarterback here. And I'll be working every day on and off the field to justify this contract.

In a statement from the team, head coach Rex Ryan said: "I'm just happy for Mark and for Mike Tannenbaum and the football staff that the business stuff is behind them where Mark is concerned. From here on out it's about football. He's a great young man who has been working hard since he got in here and I'm excited that we have him in the fold."

The process picked up steam a few weeks ago when agent David Dunn and his "host of representatives" (Tannenbaum's phrase) from Athletes First visited the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J., to talk with Mike T and his staff.

"I give them a lot of credit," said Tannenbaum. "We were trying to create a sense of urgency, even though obviously it's still early June. But I think it was just good, healthy dialogue and we felt there was really no need to wait if both sides could create that sense of urgency to come up with a deal that was good for both sides."

Sanchez said he knew the contract was done "for a little bit," although the team didn't announce the agreement until 5:10 p.m., first on its Twitter page and then on this Website, while the team was still participating in the afternoon practice on the second day of its three-day full-squad minicamp, where Sanchez continued his competition with fourth-year QB Kellen Clemens for the starting job.

To say that Sanchez "agreed to" the deal rather than had signed it when he spoke to the media was accurate, since he left the informal interview to do the actual signing. Tannenbaum said this document is 47 pages long, and since each page of the six copies of the contract must be signed, the rookie would be busy for a while tonight.

This is the earliest that Team T has signed a first-round top pick to a contract. Tannenbaum joined the Jets as their director of player contracts in 1997. The earliest a top-pick first-rounder had signed previously was when DE/LB Bryan Thomas, the 22nd choice of the 2002 draft, inked his rookie deal on June 20, 2002.

TE Anthony Becht signed his rookie deal on May 26, 2000, but he was the fourth of the NFL-record four first-round picks the Jets spent that year and was the 27th pick overall.

Both sides thanked their own people and the other side's negotiators for striking this deal. Dunn's group included Brian Murphy, Andrew Kessler and Nick Sanchez, Mark's brother.

The Jets team included director of football administration Ari Nissim and manager of football administration Jacqueline Davidson, not to mention Jets chairman and CEO Woody Johnson.

"Woody was also really involved, and I just want to thank him for all his help and support," Tannenbaum said. "He was involved every step in the way. We're just glad it's done."

Sanchez said the contract accomplished a few things immediately. He said it was "a big weight lifted off all our shoulders" and also allows him to move into community endeavors he's been planning for the North Jersey area that he now calls home and for his home area near Los Angeles.

But he said one thing won't change.

"For me it's only the tip of the iceberg," he said. "There's so much more I want to accomplish, and this isn't 'assume you're going to be successful.' It's going to take a lot of hard work. I'm fortunate enough to be on a great team, but signing this deal doesn't mean Bart Scott isn't coming after me tomorrow. He's going to be there talking just like Big Jenk and all those guys. Nothing changes on the football front. I've got to keep my same mindset and stay focused."

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