“I don’t think Mark will be a starter again in the NFL," Tomlinson said Tuesday on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Sports Radio. "I think there’s certainly potential for him to be a backup and then get a starting job for half the year or what have you that way. But I think his days as a full-time starter are pretty much over."
The future Hall of Fame running back spent the final two years of his career with the Jets, and Sanchez was the starting quarterback for that entire stretch.
Still, Tomlinson probably doesn't know any more about the Jets' wacky quarterback situation than the rest of us. And his comments don't seem to come from any kind of ill will toward Sanchez.
Rather, they seem based upon the fact that the fifth-year quarterback out of USC hasn't been able to make the most of the chances he's been given and that the window for such opportunities in the NFL eventually closes.
"You’ve got to realize in football, for a quarterback, you’re going to get three to five years in an organization to prove that you’re the franchise guy," Tomlinson said. "I mean that’s just what it is. And if you don’t do it in that time frame then they’re going to move on to somebody else and then your position now will become a backup.”
Sanchez helped the Jets advance to the AFC championship game in each of his first two seasons but has been wildly inconsistent since, going 14-17 as a starter and eventually being benched last season in favor of third-string quarterback Greg McElroy.
The Jets then picked Geno Smith in the second round of April's draft and declared an open competition for the starting quarterback positition -- a competition Sanchez actually appeared to be winning before hurting his shoulder in the third preseason game.
So now Smith is the starter, at least for Week 1. And in Tomlinson's view, it could be the start of a long sideline stint for Sanchez.