Updated at 11:30 p.m.
One day after Peyton Manning officially signed a five-year, $96 million contract with the Denver Broncos, the team has traded third-year quarterback Tim Tebow (along with a seventh-round pick) to the New York Jets for a fourth- and sixth-round pick.
Tebow, who started the final 13 games of the 2011 season (including two playoff games), went 8-5 for Denver, winning four overtime games and two others in come-from-behind style. He only completed 46.5 percent of his passes in the regular season but threw for 12 touchdowns with six interceptions while also carrying the ball 122 times for 660 yards and six more scores. He added 316 yards (on 10-of-21 passing) with two touchdowns against Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs but went just 9-for-26 for 136 yards with no scores in the second round against New England.
@TimTebow, I wanna thank u, 4 wht u helped us do last year. On the field & off! I have NO doubt that u will B a blessing 4 the Jets!
— Brian Dawkins (@BrianDawkins) March 21, 2012
Tim Tebow is the man! I love Tim on and off the field! True role model, he was and still will be mine. I wish him the very best! TEEEBOOOW!
— Von Miller (@MillerLite40) March 21, 2012
One of those come-from-behind victories was a 17-13 win over New York in Denver where Tebow led his squad on a 12-play, 95-yard scoring drive capped by his own 20-yard rushing touchdown with the clock winding down late in the fourth quarter.
Reports broke Tuesday night that the Jets’ interest in Tebow had “intensified” and that New York was legitimately interested in adding him to their roster. Initially it was believed that the Jets wanted to bring him on board to help heal a badly divided locker room, but reports Wednesday morning noted that the team’s interest in him was solely from a football perspective.
New York and Denver agreed to a trade for Tebow early Wednesday afternoon but a snag in Tebow’s contract – an advance payment the Broncos made to him of approximately $5 million that the contract stipulated would be recalled to the team – caused the Jets to stall in finalizing the agreement.
Denver advanced Tebow $1.43 million for the 2012 season, $1.69 million for 2013 and $1.92 for 2014 (according to the Denver Post), all of which the contract stipulated that any team that traded for him would have to pay back as part of the deal.
With Tebow’s future up in the air, the Jacksonville Jaguars reentered the picture and attempted to get in between the agreement. However, the Jets finalized their trade for Tebow around 9 p.m., agreeing to pay half ($2.5 million) of the sum.
ESPN‘s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen each reported separately that Tebow was actually given an option between the two teams as the evening approached. However, Tebow denied that in a conference call late Wednesday night.
“Ultimately I didn’t really have any [options],” he said. “The Broncos had all of that power.”
Some see Tebow as a good fit in New York because of new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who coached Tebow in the Senior Bowl and is known to run the Wildcat offense at times. Head coach Rex Ryan, who has a defense-first mindset and prefers a power running game, also probably likes what Tebow can potentially do for the team in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
However, there are also some obvious drawbacks to this acquisition.
Two jets players – cornerback Antonio Cromartie and linebacker Bart Scott – have been exceptionally critical of Tebow over the past year. Additionally, quarterback Mark Sanchez – who just received a three-year extension including $20.5 million in guarantees – is in need of competition but certainly not the mountain of added pressure that “Tebowmania” brings with it. Sanchez has been described as “fragile” and putting that much pressure on him could do the opposite of what the coaching staff intends.
We don’t need Tebow. We sell out every home game let him go to Jacksonville Tampa or Miami. Our (cont) tl.gd/ghgvjl
— Antonio Cromartie (@ACromartie) March 20, 2012
Y bring Tebow in when we need to bring in more Weapons for @Mark_Sanchez let’s build the team around him. We already signed to 3 year ext.
— Antonio Cromartie (@ACromartie) March 21, 2012
Not only could New York be asking a backup quarterback to be a locker room leader (perhaps even “savior” in some respects), Tebow would be trying to fill that role in a dysfunctional environment with a notoriously boisterous head coach and under even more intense media scrutiny than he is used to in normal circumstances.
Other teams that expressed interest in acquiring Tebow included Green Bay, Jacksonville and St. Louis. There were at least one or two other offers on the table.
ESPN’s Wendi Nix reports that sources say Tim Tebow asked John Elway to make trading him to Jacksonville a priority.
— Only Gators .com (@onlygators) March 21, 2012
OGGOA will update this breaking story shortly.