Report: Tebow deal to Jets hits snag
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2012
NEW YORK (AP) — Just another crazy day for the New York Jets.
Hours after the Jets announced they had agreed in principle to acquire Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos, ESPN reported that the deal hit a snag.
Tebow Time on Broadway? Well, not quite yet.
Citing anonymous sources, ESPN says Wednesday that provisions in the quarterback’s contract are causing complications in the completion of the trade. ESPN says Tebow’s contract has $5 million worth of “recapture language,” which means the Jets would have to pay back some money to the Broncos.
The hang-up came hours after the Jets declared they were bringing the polarizing quarterback to New York as a complement to starter Mark Sanchez. Denver general manager Brian Xanders said the Broncos would receive fourth- and sixth-round draft picks, while New York would get a seventh-rounder — all in 2012.
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.
The Jets would have lots of explaining to do — no matter whether the deal goes through or falls apart.
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 hit the hang-up when the Jets apparently balked at repaying the Broncos more than $5 million for the 2012-14 seasons from that advance.
If the sides work things out, “Tebowmania” likely would take over New York, just a few weeks after “Linsanity” swept the New York area and the rest of the NBA with the Knicks’ sensational Jeremy Lin.
Tebow, who became expendable when the Broncos signed Peyton Manning to a five-year deal Tuesday, would be expected to complement Sanchez, who received a $40.5 million contract extension, with $20.5 million guaranteed, earlier this month. Rex Ryan’s Jets also had pursued Manning before bowing out on the sweepstakes when there was little interest by the four-time NFL MVP.
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 Manning gave the team a better chance at winning a championship now.
For the Jets, Tebow would add a versatile dimension to the offense, including running the team’s wildcat package — something new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano enjoys using. He would also provide a solid presence in a locker room that was rife with infighting last season — particularly between Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes.
He’d also bring 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.
Several teams, including his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars, reportedly were interested in acquiring Tebow.
Jaguars spokesman Dan Edwards declined to comment on an ESPN report that Jacksonville was trying to work out a deal with Denver for Tebow.
The Jaguars and general manager Gene Smith showed little interest in Tebow coming out of college in 2010, even though he grew up in Jacksonville and starred at nearby Florida. They passed on Tebow with the No. 10 pick, instead selecting defensive tackle Tyson Alualu. Tebow went to Denver at No. 25.
Last season, Jacksonville traded up to draft Blaine Gabbert and called him a “franchise quarterback.” Gabbert struggled mightily, and the team blamed his problems on receivers and coaching.
Coach Jack Del Rio was fired in November, the same day the team was sold to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan. Before the Super Bowl, Khan said in a radio interview that he would have drafted Tebow and indicated he would consider bringing in Tebow if he became available.
“I share your sentiment,” Khan said to a caller who said he hoped the Jaguars would consider Tebow. “When is the next time Jacksonville is gonna have an athlete like Tim Tebow?”
So it’s pretty clear that any interest the Jaguars have in Tebow is coming from the owner and not the front office. Although the Jaguars haven’t blacked out a home game since 2009, they have had trouble filling the stadium while missing the playoffs 10 of the last 12 years.
Tebow certainly would help, even if he’s brought in to boost ticket sales and make the franchise relevant nationally for the first time since beating Pittsburgh in the playoffs in 2008.
The thing is, Jacksonville has no pressing need for another quarterback. The Jaguars signed Chad Henne to be the team’s backup last week and have Dan LeFevour on the roster.
The Jets, too, have a few quarterbacks on the roster.
The Jets signed Stanton last week to be their No. 2 quarterback, ahead of Greg McElroy, the team’s seventh-round draft pick last year. General manager Mike Tannenbaum said Tuesday that he was confident in the trio, but added: “I’ll give you my standard answer, which is you never know if other opportunities present themselves. We’ll always look at it. That’s the standard line there, but we feel good about Greg, Drew and Mark, and see where we go from there.”
On Tuesday, Sanchez spoke highly of both Tebow and Manning on Fox Sports Radio in Los Angeles.
“I think Peyton is going to do great, and I think Tim is going to do great no matter what happens,” Sanchez said on “The Petros & Money Show.” “He can learn from one of the best quarterbacks to ever play or he moves on somewhere else and uses his skills at another ball club. He definitely has talent. He knows how to win. He knows how to impact players, so both guys are really in a good situation. It’ll work out for both of them.”
The effect Tebow’s presence would 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.
Two minutes after the Jets posted the trade on its Facebook page, there were 874 “likes,” 366 comments and 247 shares. Most of the comments ran along the lines of: “I might cry” and “He is not welcome here, another terrible decision.”
Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath, who led the Jets to their only Super Bowl title in 1969, was among those unhappy with the deal when he heard.
“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 1050 ESPN Radio. “I don’t think they know what they’re doing over there.”
Tebow’s days were numbered in Denver when Manning chose the Broncos as his next destination. They are two entirely different quarterbacks and it made little sense to keep Tebow as a backup because the Broncos were going to have a vastly different offense under Manning, one of the most precise passers in league history.
Elway and Broncos coach John Fox called Tebow on Monday night to tell him it was possible he would be traded.
Elway said he wanted to do right by Tebow, who took over a 1-4 team and led the Broncos to the AFC West title and a playoff win over Pittsburgh.
“It would be our goal to get him in the best situation possible for him to have success also,” Elway said.