- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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A little over a year ago, Mark Sanchez received a lucrative contract extension. Now he's the subject of trade rumors. His name has been mentioned in the Darrelle Revis talks with the Bucs, ProFootballTalk reported Friday.
Earlier Friday, one of the most respected voices in Jets history -- Curtis Martin -- questioned whether Sanchez can lead the Jets back to the playoffs. Tough day for Sanchez.
"I'm just going to be frank: Mark has to play better," Martin told ESPNNewYork.com after taping a "CenterStage" interview in Manhattan for the YES Network. "If he doesn't play better, I think it will be very, very difficult for them to have a good year."
The Hall-of-Fame running back never speaks ill of his former team, but he was noticeably lukewarm when asked about Sanchez, who struggled last season. Martin actually said he wanted to see Tim Tebow get more playing time last season. Asked if Sanchez can play better, Martin paused a moment.
"To be honest with you, I don't know," he said. "I mean, it's been three or four years and it hasn't happened yet. He did well his first two years; they went to the AFC Championship Game. He did what was necessary, but I think it's a different team and a different time, so I think his level of play has to go to another level.
"Do I think he has the God-given ability? Yes. I think putting it together and taking it to the field, that's what is necessary right now."
The Jets, too, have serious questions about Sanchez, and they'd probably jump at the opportunity to trade his $8.25 million guaranteed salary to another team. But a trade is unlikely to happen.
The Bucs have concerns about their own starter, Josh Freeman, and they've stated publicly their desire to add competition, but it's hard to imagine them taking on Sanchez's $8.25 million. Are they that desperate to acquire Revis? Of course, the Bucs could try to renegotiate Sanchez's contract as a precursor to a trade, but there apparently haven't been any talks of that nature.
If the Jets were to trade Sanchez, they'd probably pick a quarterback in the first or second round of the draft. They came away impressed with West Virginia's Geno Smith after his recent pro day, and they also like Syracuse's Ryan Nassib. Whether the Jets are convinced Smith and/or Nassib is good enough to be the new "franchise" quarterback is unknown.
Interesting back story to Sanchez and Freeman, both of whom were first-round picks in 2009: The Jets' scouts graded Freeman higher than Sanchez, but the organization changed its mind after a private workout with Sanchez. The Jets traded up and picked Sanchez fifth overall. The Bucs preferred Sanchez over Freeman, according to a source, but ended up taking Freemen 17th overall.
By the way, the Martin "CenterStage" interview will premiere in June. It'll be a good watch.