Tim Tebow is coming to New York. Really.
After a big false start, the New York Jets pulled off a Tebow-like comeback Wednesday night, getting the quarterback who turned the Denver Broncos
from an also-ran into a playoff team last season and became the NFL's
most talked-about player -- for a fourth- and sixth-round draft pick.
Now, Tebowmania is opening on Broadway.
there's sure to be plenty of drama -- just as there was from the moment
the Jets pulled off the deal. Or thought they did, that is.
"I'm thankful they stuck with me through this whole crazy process,"
Tebow said during a call late Wednesday night, repeating several times
that he was "excited" to be a member of the Jets and to play for coach
Tebow won't meet the New York media in person until Friday at the earliest, the team told ESPNNewYork.com.
hours after initially agreeing to a trade, the teams completed it after
it was hung up when the Jets, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam
Schefter, balked at repaying Denver more than $5 million for a salary
advance due Tebow. The two sides agreed to split that cost, and Jets
general manager Mike Tannenbaum said the team was "comfortable with the
compensation," which also included Denver's seventh-round pick in
He said there was a disagreement about how to handle the salary advance after Denver received the papers.
knew what the contract was," Tannenbaum said in a separate conference
call Wednesday. "We had read it. ... We felt it was one way; they felt
it was another. Based on that, they were well within their rights to
assess their different possibilities of what to do and their
alternatives. And they did so throughout the day."
The Jets and
Broncos originally announced the trade just after 1 p.m. ET Wednesday.
But then Denver, according to sources, asked the Jets to pay back a
portion of bonuses and salary already paid to Tebow.
given a $6.2 million salary advance before the 2011 season, the sources
said. Tebow's contract required the Jets to repay the advanced salaries
for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons, a total of about $5 million,
according to sources.
The Broncos expected the Jets to pay those
salary advances as per terms of the contract. The Jets balked at doing
so, allowing the Jaguars to re-enter the picture.
offered the Broncos a fourth-round pick and were willing to pay Denver
most, if not all of, the $5 million in question on Tebow's contract,
league sources told Schefter. But Denver liked the Jets' offer better,
and Tebow preferred to be traded to New York because of the support he
got from Jets front office and coaches, according to the sources.
Tebow denied that he had final say in where he was going.
I really didn't have any because the Broncos had all that power," Tebow
said, adding that Denver was "gracious" in the way it handled the
process. "I was just kind of watching and waiting -- kind of like
everybody else. It was an interesting day."
Jaguars owner Shad Khan said in a statement Wednesday night that he asked general manager Gene Smith to look into a Tebow deal.
think we have a duty to consider all avenues of improving the Jaguars
on and off the field, especially given the unique circumstances
involving the player," Khan said. "I appreciate the high level of due
diligence Gene and his staff dedicated to this matter, even as late as
this evening, and I am very satisfied with the outcome. Our commitment
to developing (2011 first-round pick) Blaine Gabbert
was, and still is, central to our goal of returning the Jaguars to
elite status in the NFL. We're looking ahead with zero regrets."
Tebow, a former first-round pick, went on the trading block Monday when the Broncos secured free agent Peyton Manning, who signed a five-year, $96 million contract.
teams expressed interest in Tebow, but the Jets -- perceived as a
sleeper at the outset -- pulled off the splashiest trade of the
Tebow, who has three years remaining on his contract
and a 2012 base salary of $1.1 million, will join a cast of backups
behind incumbent Mark Sanchez, but his presence could ignite a quarterback controversy. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie tweeted on Tuesday night that "we don't need Tebow," expressing his confidence in Sanchez and the current roster.
Tannenbaum emphasized that the team is committed to Sanchez.
"Mark Sanchez is, has been and will be our starting quarterback," he
said, also noting that he had spoken to both quarterbacks and explained
Tebow said he had a "great conversation" on Wednesday with Sanchez, adding that they've been friends for several years.
goal is to push him to get better, and to push myself to get better
every day," Tebow said. "But I think we'll have a great working
relationship. We'll have a great relationship off the field, and we've
had that the last few years. He's such a classy guy and handles himself
so well, and I'll be very honored to call him my teammate."
on Tuesday what he thought it would be like to play with Tebow, Sanchez
told FoxSportsRadio in Los Angeles, "I think Peyton (Manning) will do
great; I think Tim will do great no matter what happens. He's either
going to get a great chance to learn from one of the best quarterbacks
to ever play, or he moves on somewhere else and he uses his skills on
another ballclub. He definitely has talent. He knows how to win; he
knows how to inspire players."
The timing of the trade is curious for New York.
weeks ago, the Jets gave Sanchez a three-year, $40.5 million contract
extension, professing their faith in him even though he regressed last
season. They signed former Detroit Lions backup Drew Stanton last week to be their No. 2 quarterback, handing him a $500,000 signing bonus. They also have former Alabama star Greg McElroy.
the Jets see Tebow as a change-of-pace player with the ability to run
the wildcat offense. They've used the wildcat in recent years, but cut
back last season with the departure of Brad Smith. The new offensive coordinator is Tony Sparano, who introduced the wildcat to the NFL as coach of the Miami Dolphins.
is very clear: They want me to come in and compete and get better, and
get better as a quarterback and to help the team any way possible,"
Tebow said. "Whatever that role is, I will do my best."
said Tebow makes the Jets "a diverse, more dynamic offense that's going
to make it more difficult for opposing teams to defend."
Fame quarterback Joe Namath, who led the Jets to their only Super Bowl
title in 1969, was among those unhappy with the trade when it was
announced earlier Wednesday.
"I'm just sorry that I can't agree with this situation. I think it's
just a publicity stunt. I can't go with it. I think it's wrong," Namath
told "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN1050 in New York. "I don't think they
know what they're doing over there."
Asked if he hoped the deal would ultimately fall through, Namath said, "Absolutely."
"And I'm a Tim Tebow fan, but I'm a bigger Jet fan than I am a Tim Tebow fan," Namath said.
Ryan, however, wants the Jets to get back to being a power-running team and New York only has one proven back, Shonn Greene.
The 6-foot-3, 238-pound Tebow rushed for 660 yards last season,
including a 20-yard touchdown in the final minute to beat the Jets 17-14
in a November game at Denver.
A few weeks earlier, Tebow beat
Sparano and the Dolphins with one of his trademark comebacks, overcoming
a 15-0 deficit to win in overtime, 18-15.
There's also some
thought that Tebow and his clean-cut image could help polish the
negative perception of the Jets' locker room, torn by discord last
season. But others close to the team said that was no factor in the
The potential for backlash remains, however. Tebow
brings with him a flock of fervent fans for reasons that have to do as
much with his faith as his football skills. A devout Christian, he's
been a role model since his days at Florida, when he led the Gators to
two national titles and captured the Heisman Trophy.
enormous popularity could turn into a distraction, especially for
Sanchez. If Sanchez struggles, the fan base ostensibly could turn on him
and start clamoring for Tebow.
"We obviously know Tim has a
magnetic following and he's a dynamic person, but every starting
quarterback has a backup quarterback," Tannenbaum said Wednesday. "If
you struggle, we understand the popularity of any backup quarterback.
This one is a little more unique than others. Mark, in this market, has
shown resilience and toughness."
This also will be an adjustment
for Tebow as he returns to a backup role. He became one of the most
popular athletes in the nation last season, replacing Kyle Orton
and leading the Broncos -- seemingly dead after a 1-4 start -- to an
8-8 record and the AFC West title. He did it with a run of miraculous
finishes, one more improbable than the next.
Tebow won his first playoff game, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers with an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime. The following week, Tebow crashed hard in a 45-10 loss to the New England Patriots.
Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway
anointed Tebow as the starting quarterback going into training camp,
but that didn't prevent him from entering the Manning sweepstakes.
the Broncos were troubled by his flawed mechanics as a passer. Tebow
completed only 46.5 percent of his throws last season.
former player, I know the last two weeks were not easy for Tim," Elway
said in a statement Wednesday. "He was put in a difficult situation, and
I commend him for how he handled it with the same first-class manner he
displayed throughout his career in Denver."
It should be
interesting to see how Tebow is welcomed in the Jets' locker room.
During the run-up to last November's game, the Jets' defensive players
weren't complimentary when discussing his passing skills. Cornerback Darrelle Revis said Tebow's unorthodox style as an option quarterback couldn't sustain long-term success in the NFL.
it turned out, Tebow made the playoffs and Sanchez didn't. Sanchez
struggled down the stretch, fueling speculation about his future.
Publicly, team officials backed him, but also promised the quarterback
depth chart would have a different look in 2012.
They weren't kidding.