Mark Sanchez started hearing from family members on Sunday evening, when word spread that St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was out for the season. The speculation was underway on who would be his replacement.
Because of Sanchez's relatively decorated resume for a backup quarterback, an impressive preseason with the Eagles, and a history with Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, his name was floated as possibility. Sanchez's family saw the Eagles quarterback linked to the Rams on TV and asked him what he knew.
"They just want to know if I'm going anywhere," Sanchez said Monday, "and I doubt it."
Sanchez said he never heard from his agent or anyone with the Eagles, which he perceived as an indication that he was not going to be traded to St. Louis. He did not find the speculation flattering as much as noise to fill time during the final week of the preseason.
"I'm an Eagle. I love being an Eagle," Sanchez said. "There's a ton of quarterbacks. Talk about someone else."
Sanchez said every player wants to play, but he understands his role in Philadelphia. He said that Nick Foles "deserves to start" and that he will prepare as if he was the starter.
When asked about a report that he did not want to reunite with Schottenheimer in St. Louis, Sanchez said he had not spoken to anyone about the Rams.
"I don't even worry about it," Sanchez said. "I love being here. I hope you guys can see that. I'm happy out there, it's good to be back playing ball, it's good to be healthy again. It's a fun atmosphere."
Every player is theoretically available, and reserves on one-year contracts are usually more available than others. But the Eagles are bullish on Sanchez and don't want to move him. They do not know whether Matt Barkley could be the backup quarterback, and they would likely seek compensation that's too steep for the Rams to surrender.
"I think everybody should be interested in Mark," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "But we have him, so that's the reality."
When Shurmur explained the backup QB's appeal, he mentioned all the games Sanchez has won with the New York Jets (33 in the regular season, four in the playoffs) and the fact that he played in two AFC championship games. But those achievements still could not net Sanchez a starting job during the offseason.
Boosting Sanchez's stock even more is the way he played this summer for the Eagles. He came to Philadelphia after missing all of last season with a shoulder injury that required surgery, which punctuated a rocky end to his tenure with the Jets. When he signed, coach Chip Kelly expected a "real healthy competition" between Sanchez and Barkley.
Once training camp opened, Sanchez played better than the Eagles could have anticipated. The preseason validated those practice performances. Sanchez completed 80.6 percent of his passes for 281 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. The Eagles scored on six of the nine drives when Sanchez played. Kelly saw enough that he decided to keep Sanchez sidelined for Thursday's preseason finale against the Jets, declaring satisfaction with the Eagles' quarterback situation.
Kelly's offense is quarterback-friendly, but Sanchez appears as if he has spent five years in it -- not five months. He believes the offense fits his skill set. The other players in the system help, too.
"Up-tempo, I think that's where I've been most successful in the past," Sanchez said. "I think I relate to the concepts well. And it's not just the quarterback position. The quarterback needs a ton of help. He needs 10 other guys doing exactly what they're supposed to do. Across the league. Tom Brady needs it, Peyton Manning needs it, and we've had that with the group that's been in."
Kelly places a premium on a backup quarterback. During last year's quarterback competition, he insisted the Eagles would need two. They did. The Rams are seeing the need for two quarterbacks this season, and the Eagles seem committed to keeping Sanchez as the No. 2.
Sanchez does not object to that role. His performance this summer suggested that a return to starting could be on the horizon, but he does not expect it to happen in St. Louis this season.
"I knew that as soon as I got healthy, I know what my abilities are," Sanchez said. "I know I can play in this league. I've won a lot of games, been in a lot of tough situations, done really well, done really poorly. Won big games, lost big games, I've just about seen it all. I knew a fresh start might be good, and it's proved to be that way so far, but I've still got a long way to go."
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