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Denver Broncos get Mark Sanchez as NFL quarterback shuffle continues

The big quarterback questions of the NFL off-season didn't end when Peyton Manning announced his decision to retire. That was only the start.

Two days after Brock Osweiler bolted Denver for Houston, the game of musical quarterbacks continued Friday with the Broncos making a trade with Philadelphia for Mark Sanchez. Denver gave up a 2017 conditional draft pick to acquire him.

Sanchez, the former USC standout who was backing up Sam Bradford, became expendable after the Eagles signed Chase Daniel earlier in the week.

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The Broncos are the second team in league history to part ways with its top two quarterbacks in the aftermath of a Super Bowl victory. Baltimore did the same after the 2000 season when it cut ties with Trent Dilfer and backup Tony Banks.

There are strong indications Denver isn't done collecting quarterbacks. The franchise has looked into acquiring San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick — Cleveland and the New York Jets are interested in him, too — and Ryan Fitzpatrick could be in play, as well, even after his career-best season with the Jets.

"He brings veteran leadership & will compete," tweeted Denver General Manager John Elway of Sanchez. "This is the 1st step in our process."

Meanwhile, in a widely expected move, the Browns released troubled quarterback Johnny Manziel less than two years after using a first-round pick on the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. So it's back to the drawing board for a club that's made the playoffs just once since its expansion year in 1999 and has peeled through 24 different starting quarterbacks during that span.

"I'd like to thank the Browns for the opportunity they gave me — nearly two years ago, we all hoped that we were building what could be a championship team for Cleveland," Manziel said in a statement released by his publicist. "I will always remember the support I received from the organization, my teammates and especially the fans."

Manziel, who spent 10 weeks after his rookie season in a rehab facility specializing in alcohol and drug abuse, was a regular on the party circuit and on multiple occasions was captured in photos and videos with a drink in hand. He also is facing a domestic violence case in Dallas.

The 2011 Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III, is also in play. He was released by Washington on Monday and reportedly visited with the Jets on Friday. That might only be leverage for the Jets, who appear to have reached a negotiating impasse with Fitzpatrick. The team's other quarterback options are underwhelming, with Geno Smith and Bryce Petty still under contract.

For Sanchez, coming to a new team just vacated by a legendary quarterback could feel familiar, because he came to the Jets as a first-round pick in 2009, in the immediate aftermath of Brett Favre's one season in New York. The Jets advanced to the AFC championship game in each of Sanchez's first two seasons, winning four road playoff games during that span. Like these Broncos, those Jets teams were built around their defense.

After spending his first five years with the Jets, Sanchez played the past two for Philadelphia, starting 10 games and going 4-6 as a fill-in for Nick Foles and then Bradford. In seven seasons, Sanchez is 37-35 as a starter.

It's possible the Broncos also could draft a quarterback next month, although they are not in position to get one of the elite prospects with their spot at No. 31.

Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 12, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Broncos shuffle up and deal - Denver gets Sanchez, and the league's quarterback carousel has more possibilities." — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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