Six weeks after injuring his right shoulder in the fourth quarter of a meaningless preseason game, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez underwent surgery late Tuesday to repair a torn labrum, the team announced.
Sanchez's season is over, and his star-crossed Jets career could be over as well. The former first-round pick, chosen fifth overall in 2009, said he was advised by Dr. James Andrews and other doctors that "my shoulder clearly needs to be addressed surgically."
Doctors had been advising him for several weeks to have surgery, sources said, but Sanchez was determined to rehab the injury. However, reality started to set in last week when he visited Andrews in Gulf Breeze, Fla., sources said.
"The injury was recovering at an encouraging rate early on, and I avoided surgery as long as I could, but ultimately I was counseled by the doctors that they simply would have to repair my shoulder," Sanchez said in a statement.
Sanchez said the doctors expect a full recovery, adding that he looks forward to getting back on the field in 2014. It probably won't be with the Jets. Sanchez is signed through 2016, thanks to the three-year extension he received in March 2012, but his cap number next year is $13.1 million.
The team is committed to rookie Geno Smith, so it's expected to cut ties with Sanchez before a $2 million roster bonus is due in March.
This was an embarrassing chapter for the Jets, who came under intense criticism by inserting Sanchez in the fourth quarter of the third preseason game behind a backup offensive line. At that moment, he was the presumptive starter because Smith had played so poorly, but he was drilled outside the pocket by then-New York Giants defensive tackle Marvin Austin.
Jets coach Rex Ryan explained he played Sanchez because he wanted to win the game. The Jets characterized it as a "day-to-day" injury, but it quickly became apparent he was seriously hurt. Three weeks later, the team placed him on short-term injured reserve (eight weeks), saying its hope was that he'd be able to return this season.
That was the Jets' only short-term IR designation.
"Throughout this process, our goal has been to provide Mark every opportunity to return this season," general manager John Idzik said in a statement. "He and our medical staff have worked very diligently to that end, and now it has been concluded that surgery is required. He will have our full support for a complete recovery."
In four seasons as the Jets' starter, Sanchez enjoyed incredible highs and devastating lows. He went to two straight AFC Championship Games, establishing himself as the face of the franchise. But his play regressed, and he hit bottom last season with the infamous "butt fumble" and a late-season benching.