While the de facto trade, if Sanchez and the Eagles were to come to terms, would result in both QBs switching teams in hopes of a fresh start, their roles and expectations would likely be much different.
Vick, 33 years old with 11 years of experience, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with New York. Most observers believe he will challenge incumbent starter Geno Smith in training camp for the starting job.
Sanchez, a 27-year-old who spent five seasons in the Big Apple, is recovering from shoulder surgery that cost him the entire 2013 season. If he were to join the Eagles, it seems unlikely he would supplant Nick Foles from the starting job — Foles led the Eagles to the playoffs and made the Pro Bowl after playing about as well as any QB not named Peyton Manning over the final 10 games of last season.
But despite those differences, the paths traveled by the two QBs the past four seasons share a striking resemblance:
• Sanchez guided the Jets to two road playoff victories and the AFC Championship Game for the second consecutive season and was the toast of New York (with a minority of doubters saying that much of the success was owed to the Jets’ ground game and defense).
• Vick, having started only one game over the prior three years after his imprisonment for his involvement in a dogfighting ring, stormed back on the NFL scene with perhaps the best season of his career, throwing for more than 3,000 yards and a career-high 21 touchdowns, while running for another 676 yards and a career-high nine scores — in only 12 starts.
• Sanchez’s freefall began, the Jets going only 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the first time in three seasons under "The Sanchize," though he actually set career-highs in passing yards and touchdowns — marks that still stand as his career marks today (this led to a few more voices saying that Sanchez the passer could not lead the Jets to success alone, that he needed a strong running game and defense to be a winner).
• Vick played in one more game in 2011 than in 2010 and, like Sanchez, set a career-high in passing yards. But the Eagles were only 7-6 with Vick under center, his TD-to-interception ratio dipped from 21-6 in 2010 to 18-14 in 2011. And after finding the end zone nine times with his legs the season before, Vick ran for only one touchdown in 2011.
• The bottom fell out for Sanchez in New York, the Jets going 6-9 in his 15 starts, with the QB regressing to 13 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions. Sanchez also fumbled a career-high 14 times. Why do we mention fumbles? Because one of them was perhaps the most infamous fumble of all time:
• The bottom fell out for Vick in Philadelphia, the Eagles going 3-7 in his 10 starts, with the QB throwing only 12 touchdown passes while throwing 10 interceptions. Injuries once again cost Vick the end of the season, but this time the Eagles finished the season giving rookie QB Foles six starts, and the changing of the guard was on.
• Like the Eagles, the Jets initiated a changing of the guard under center, only they delayed it a season. Instead, Gang Green drafted Geno Smith out of West Virginia in the second round of the 2013 Draft, and put him into a competition with Sanchez in training camp for the starting spot. As the preseason neared an end, most observers felt Sanchez had actually earned the starting spot, outplaying Smith, but a hit by the Giants’ Marvin Austin in August tore the labrum in Sanchez’s throwing shoulder and ended his season.
• While the Eagles did not bring in a rookie QB in 2013, they did bring in a rookie head coach in Chip Kelly, whose high-paced, high-flying offense at the University of Oregon led the Ducks to unprecedented success and had the skill players in Philadelphia drooling over the stats they could put up. Indeed, the season got off to a blazing start for Vick and the Eagles … for all of one game. But Vick and the Eagles dropped three straight after a Week 1 win and an injury in Week 5 essentially ended the Michael Vick era in Philadelphia.
As for 2014, Vick at least knows where he’ll be playing. All that remains to be discovered is just how big a fan of history — and green — Sanchez is.