Tim Tebow was traded to the New York Jets from the Denver Broncos after the teams resolved a snag over the quarterback’s contract.
The Broncos confirmed the deal in a statement tonight, saying they were getting a fourth-round and sixth-round pick in next month’s National Football League draft in exchange for Tebow and a seventh-round choice.
The Jets agreed to pay half of a $5 million salary advance to the quarterback, ESPN reported, without citing a source for its information. Denver made no mention of the contract amount in its statement.
Tebow, who was taken by the Broncos in the first round from the University of Florida two years ago, created a national stir with his comeback play and religious profile last season. He’s now heading to a team that’s been rocked by an on-field collapse and locker-room squabbles.
The trade comes a day after the Broncos signed four-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning to be their starting quarterback. After leading Denver to the playoffs last season, Tebow will be a backup in New York to Mark Sanchez.
The Jets originally confirmed the trade on their official Twitter account at midday today, without disclosing what they gave up. The contract dispute then popped up, first reported by ESPN.
At one point, the network said that the Broncos were giving Tebow the decision on whether to be sent to the Jets or the Jacksonville Jaguars, who play in the area of northeast Florida where the quarterback grew up.
That story, which didn’t cite any source, was soon followed by another report that New York was the destination, and then by the Broncos’ confirmation.
The addition of Tebow won’t affect the Jets’ Super Bowl chances, oddsmakers said. Andrew Patterson of Las Vegas Sports Consultants, which helps casinos set sports betting lines, said they remain 25-1 shots for the title.
Tebow, 24, had a 7-4 regular-season record as a starter in Denver last season, helping the team rebound from a 1-4 start and get its first playoff win since 2005.
He was voted America’s favorite active pro athlete in an ESPN fan-based poll in January and spawned a fad known as “Tebowing” through his kneel-and-pray pose after victories. He has been outspoken in professing his Christian faith.
The Jets also finished last season 8-8 and missed the playoffs as they were beset by locker-room controversy, including verbal altercations between Sanchez and receiver Santonio Holmes.
Sanchez signed a new three-year contract this month and Jets owner Woody Johnson said Holmes would be back with the team next season.
As the Jets collapsed late in the season, losing their last three games, the team they share a stadium with, the New York Giants, went on to win its second Super Bowl title in five seasons. Jets coach Rex Ryan said after the season he had lost the pulse of the team and promised not to keep predicting Super Bowl championships for his club.
While Tebow guided five fourth-quarter comeback wins last season, his 46.5 completion percentage as a passer was the worst among the league’s starting quarterbacks.
Sanchez completed a career-high 56.7 percent of his passes last season, his third as a starter. The Jets agreed March 16 on a contract with backup quarterback Drew Stanton, who played his first four seasons for the Detroit Lions. They also have quarterback Greg McElroy on their roster.
The 6-foot-2, 236-pound Tebow, who won two national championships at Florida, rushed for 660 yards and six touchdowns last year, when the Broncos had the league’s top rushing attack.
The Jets may use Tebow in offensive packages that feature a running back taking a direct snap from center. Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano incorporated those types of plays when he was coach of the Miami Dolphins and the Jets occasionally used the strategy with former college quarterback Brad Smith to help them reach American Football Conference championship games in 2009 and 2010. Smith joined the Buffalo Bills before last season.
Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie on his Twitter account questioned why the team is adding Tebow when it need to “bring in more weapons” for Sanchez. The Jets’ offense ranked 25th out of 32 teams in total yards last season.
Win Over Jets
Tebow led the Broncos to a 17-13 victory over the Jets in Denver on Nov. 17 by directing a 95-yard drive in the closing minutes, capped by his game-winning 20-yard touchdown run. He completed 9-of-20 passes for 104 yards against the Jets, while rushing eight times for 68 yards.
For the season, Tebow completed 126 of 271 passes for 1,729 yards, with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Although Tebow emerged as a fan favorite in Denver, John Elway, a Hall of Fame quarterback with the Broncos and now their executive vice president of football operations, personally recruited Manning, who signed a five-year free-agent deal yesterday that ESPN said is worth $96 million.
Elway said during Manning’s introductory news conference that the Broncos were looking into trading Tebow.
“This is a tough business and I will tell you the toughest thing about this whole thing is Tim Tebow, because of what I think about Tim Tebow,” Elway said. “The things that he did last year were tremendous in helping turn this organization around from a 4-12 team to a playoff team and winning the division. I have a great deal of respect for him, as a person and for the things that he does.”
While the odds on the Broncos winning the Super Bowl dropped to 10-1 after the signing of Manning, Tebow’s arrival in New York won’t have that kind of impact on the Jets’ chances of winning the championship next season, according to Patterson of Las Vegas Sports Consultants.
“I don’t see how he makes the Jets a better football team,” he said by telephone. “He’s not going to play quarterback, he’s going to come in maybe on third downs, but if a team signs a really good fullback, does it affect their win total or game lines? No, not really.”