For the third time in an NFL career that has spanned as many full seasons, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has been dismissed by the franchise to which he was under contract as the New England Patriots decided to release the former Heisman Trophy winner on Saturday as they were forced to cut 22 players in order to whittle their roster down to 53 players ahead of the 2013 season.
ESPN‘s Adam Schefter first reported Tebow’s release via Twitter.
It took one month after being waived by the New York Jets for Tebow to be signed by New England, the team that always seemed like the best fit for his unique talents.
The Patriots acquired Tebow as a quarterback and waived Mike Kafka in order to bring him into the fold. In joining New England, he reunited with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who selected him with the No. 25 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft while serving as head coach of the Denver Broncos.
But McDaniels’s desire to give him an opportunity and owner Robert Kraft’s affection for him as a person were simply not enough to keep Tebow on the 53-man roster.
In 2011, during his second year with the Broncos, Tebow was a mid-season replacement at starting quarterback and set the league on fire by leading his team to numerous come-from-behind victories and seven wins in eight games from Weeks 7-14. He also threw a game-winning overtime touchdown against Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs, going went 10-of-21 for 316 yards with two passing touchdowns while carrying the ball 10 times for 50 yards and a rushing score.
Denver traded Tebow to New York after acquiring quarterback Peyton Manning, and the Jets struggled to get him on the field. Tebow barely contributed in New York last season, seeing the field in just 12 games and rarely on offense. He completed 6-of-8 passes for 39 yards and took 32 carries for 102 yards, never once finding the end zone.
Tebow played in three of the Patriots’ four 2013 preseason games, combining to go 11-for-30 for 145 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also carried the ball 16 times for 91 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per rush. His best performed occurred in his final appearance on Thursday; he went 6-for-11, throwing the two touchdowns and one interception while picking up 30 yards on six carries.
Whether Tebow has played his final NFL game is pure speculation at this point, though if he was unable to latch on with New England as a gadget player and developmental third-string quarterback, his options of continuing his career on football’s biggest stage appear to be dwindling even further.
The Patriots also released former Gators defensive end Jermaine Cunningham on Saturday, and former Florida wide receiver David Nelson was cut by the Cleveland Browns earlier in the day, making him the third member of the 2008 national championship team to be waived on Saturday.
Other Gators cut by NFL teams over the last few days include offensive tackles Max Starks (San Diego Chargers) and Xavier Nixon (Washington Redskins), wide receivers Frankie Hammond, Jr. (Kansas City Chiefs) and Omarius Hines (Green Bay Packers), punter Chas Henry (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and defensive linemen Jaye Howard (Seattle Seahawks) and Earl Okine (Houston Texans).
Photo Credit: Associated Press