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On the Rams and Mark Sanchez

3/24/2014

Even before the New York Jets released quarterback Mark Sanchez, there was already speculation circulating that the St. Louis Rams might provide a logical landing spot.

Indeed, the Jets opted to part with Sanchez and save up to $8.3 million in salary cap space. The move was pretty much a no-brainer for New York given Sanchez's price tag, the team's attempts to develop Geno Smith and the ensuing move to add Michael Vick. New York now has Vick and Smith to compete for the starting job.

Meanwhile in St. Louis, the Rams have made it clear they are committed to Sam Bradford as their starting quarterback. Beyond Bradford, though, there is no proven depth after the free-agent departure of Kellen Clemens. Clemens signed a two-year deal with the San Diego Chargers in the opening week of free agency.

In Clemens, the Rams had a backup with extensive knowledge of coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's offense and some veteran leadership. If those qualities sound like something you want in a backup to Bradford, well, Sanchez might be the best replacement on the market.

It's no surprise Rams coach Jeff Fisher expressed interest in Sanchez on Sunday night. Speaking to USA Today at the owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., Fisher made it clear Sanchez is on the team's radar.

"I'd say that there is interest. I can't say how much. But there certainly would be interest," Fisher told USA Today's Jim Corbett. "I don't have a backup with experience on the roster right now."

Austin Davis, who signed his exclusive rights free agent deal with the Rams last week, is the only other quarterback on the roster. Aside from having about a year and a half in the system, Davis doesn't appear to bring enough to the table to be the No. 2 quarterback in 2014, at least not without some competition.

As Fisher points out, the Rams are without an experienced backup following Clemens' departure. There remains a strong chance the Rams will look to draft the quarterback they hope can become their No. 2 in May, but it still would make sense for the Rams to bring in a veteran capable of handling No. 2 duties and mentor a potential rookie until said draft pick would be ready for the role.

That's why the Rams have spent time recruiting veteran Shaun Hill, who came to St. Louis on a visit but has yet to make a decision on his future. It's possible he'll land in St. Louis but a return to the Detroit Lions could also be in the offing.

As for Sanchez, it's easy to see why the Rams would consider him. Sanchez played for Schottenheimer from 2009 to 2011. In those three seasons, Sanchez started 47 games, passing for 9,209 yards, 55 touchdowns and 51 interceptions for a QB rating of 39.3. The Jets went 27-20 in those starts and reached the AFC Championship in the first two seasons.

For his career, Sanchez has been one of the league's least productive starters. Since 2009, his QBR of 36.1 is worst among qualifying starters and his 43 fumbles rank second only to Baltimore's Joe Flacco.

Those numbers are certainly nothing to crow about, but Sanchez's familiarity with the offense would make him a more natural fit, especially if the Rams draft another signal-caller. And ideally for the Rams, he'd never have to play unless it was in mop-up duty.

It's probably an unpopular idea given Sanchez's struggles in New York, but I can see why it would make sense as long as he is providing insurance early in the season while helping tutor a drafted quarterback, who would slide into the No. 2 role sooner than later. Frankly, there aren't many good veteran options out there and certainly none with experience in their offense.

Of course, all of that assumes Sanchez would even be willing to accept such a role. Injuries kept Sanchez on the sideline last year and it stands to reason he may not want to return to anything less than a solidified No. 2 job or even one that gives him a chance to compete for a starting job. If that's the case, the Rams probably aren't a fit.