Done deal: Tebow on his way to Jets
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.
Eight hours after initially agreeing to a deal, the teams completed the trade that was hung up when the Jets apparently balked at repaying Denver more than $5 million for a salary advance due Tebow. ESPN reported that the two sides had agreed to split that cost.
Despite ultimately pulling off the deal for Tebow, it’s just another bizarre moment for the Jets, a team that has had its share of them over the years, conjuring memories of Bill Belichick’s hiring as coach and his resignation one day later.
Just a few weeks after “Linsanity” swept the area and the rest of the NBA with the Knicks’ sensational Jeremy Lin, “Timsanity” now will take over New York.
“You’ve got a tough player on the field, a leader in the locker room and a guy who shares the faith that I share,” Jets defensive end Mike DeVito said. “So, I’m very grateful to have him on our team, and I feel it’s going to really benefit us as a whole.”
But not everyone’s a fan.
Another teammate, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his confidence in Sanchez and the offense as structured before the deal.
“Y bring Tebow in when we need to bring in more Weapons for (at)Mark—Sanchez,” Cromartie tweeted. “Let’s build the team around him. We already signed to 3 year ext.”
The Jets signed Drew Stanton last week to be their No. 2 quarterback, ahead of Greg McElroy, the team’s seventh-round draft pick last year.
The effect Tebow’s presence will have on Sanchez remains to be seen. The Jets appear to be committed to him financially as their starter for at least the next two years, but a restless fan base that got down on Sanchez as he struggled late last season could call for Tebow to take over at the first sign of trouble.
Tebow led the Broncos to the playoffs last season—along the way beating Sanchez and the Jets, who missed the postseason. But Denver executive John Elway believed Payton Manning gave the team a better chance at winning a championship now.
For the Jets, Tebow adds a unique dimension to the offense, including running the team’s wildcat package—something new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano enjoys using. He also provides a solid presence in a locker room that was rife with infighting last season.
Tebow also 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.
Denver started shopping Tebow after signing Manning, and the Jets were considered a long shot as late as Tuesday night. But New York went hard after Tebow, envisioning him as a versatile complement to Sanchez, who received a $40.5 million contract extension, with $20.5 million guaranteed, earlier this month. The Jets also had pursued Manning, but fell out of that race early when there wasn’t mutual interest.
As part of Tebow’s $11.25 million, five-year contract he signed as a rookie in 2010, he had a $6.277 million advance due 29 days after the start of the 2011 league year. That money was paid to him in August after the NFL lockout ended. The trade stalled over the payment the Jets would owe the Broncos from that advance.
That allowed Jacksonville to get back into the hunt, and it came down to the Jaguars and Jets.