Updated: March 28, 2014, 2:44 PM ET
Rich Cimini | ESPN.com
Two years ago, a bemused Mark Sanchez watched the New York Jets stage a huge news conference to unveil his new backup quarterback, Tim Tebow. On Friday, Sanchez played the role of Tebow, as he was introduced by the Philadelphia Eagles as Nick Foles’ backup.
Sanchez called Foles “an incredible talent,” but much like Tebow, he never indicated he’d be happy to settle for the No. 2 job.
“I’m always going to want to start,” Sanchez told the Philadelphia media, adding that it should be in every quarterback’s DNA to feel that way. “It doesn’t matter where you are, you want to play. There’s nothing wrong with having that drive. I’ll keep that fire going and try to help this team the best I can.”
Sanchez, released last Friday by the Jets, signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract. He can earn up to $4 million if he maxes out on his playing-time incentives.
He said he received offers from a “handful” of teams but chose the Eagles because of their offensive firepower and coach Chip Kelly’s “cutting edge” approach.
“I think it’s the best fit,” Sanchez said. “Offensively, it’s the best fit, with the kind of leaders they have on this team. … This is one of the most explosive teams you see around the league.”
Sanchez, who underwent surgery in October to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, underwent an intensive medical exam Thursday. He said the Eagles’ doctors were “pleasantly surprised” by his progress. Sanchez, said to be at about 80 percent, vowed to be ready for training camp.
“I’ve said many times that we will always look to add quality players at the quarterback position,” Kelly said. “We consider it a key position in this game, so having the chance to add Mark to that group was a no-brainer for us.
“Mark has started 68 games in his career and has taken his teams deep into the playoffs multiple times, so we really like what he brings to the table from an experience standpoint. I also had the chance to see Mark play in college and have always had respect for his game and athletic ability.”
Despite his recent struggles, Sanchez becomes the most accomplished quarterback on the Eagles’ roster. He has four playoff victories; Foles has nine wins, period, but he played brilliantly last season in winning the job after Michael Vick was injured.
“I’m confident no matter who I’m competing against,” Sanchez said. “Coming in here, I’m not stirring up a controversy. I’m here to help this team win, whatever that means. I really do respect Foles. I respect what he’s done here, especially last year. He’s a heck of a player, an incredible talent and I’m excited to work with him.”
The Eagles also have quarterbacks Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne on the roster. Sanchez knows Barkley, a fellow USC quarterback, and he met Kinne two springs ago when he was briefly on the Jets’ roster. Sanchez said he hosted Barkley on his recruiting visit to USC.
Sanchez believes he can thrive in Kelly’s up-tempo offense.
“I feel like some of our best success where I’ve been was at a high tempo at a high level, whether late in the game or when we picked things up and started rolling in a two-minute fashion,” he said. “It feels like that’s kind of the norm around there. That’s fun for me, fun for a quarterback.”
Sanchez, who spent five seasons in New York, refrained from any parting shots at the Jets. He thanked the organization, saying he has “absolutely no hard feelings.”
Basically, he traded places with Vick, who signed with the Jets the same day Sanchez was released.
“I think we passed each other on the train, gave each other a high-five [and said] ‘Good luck,'” Sanchez joked.Longtime Jets beat writer for New York Daily News
Syracuse University graduate