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Tim Tebow To Jets? Reported Trade To New York May Have Hit A Snag

Posted: 03/21/2012 1:57 pm Updated: 03/22/2012 8:10 pm

Tim Tebow
FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2011 file photo, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) and Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) walk off the field together after an NFL football game, in Denver. Tebow has been traded from the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets. (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez, File)

BY DENNIS WASZAK Jr., THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK -- Robby Tebow was all set to root for his brother, the newest member of the New York Jets. Now, he's not so sure where Tim Tebow will end up.

And, he's not alone.

Playing at a pro-am golf tournament at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla., Robby Tebow said Wednesday that he and the Denver Broncos quarterback thought a trade to the Jets was a done deal.

"Like he was signed, sealed and delivered," he said. "Apparently, they didn't read the fine print."

The Jets announced early Wednesday that they had agreed in principle to acquire Tebow for draft pick 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.

But then Robby Tebow's phone started buzzing. Tebow Time on Broadway? Well, not quite yet.

"They're working on it," Robby Tebow said. "I think the Jags are back in play. We're almost back to square one."

Jaguars spokesman Dan Edwards declined comment.

"We want to go where somebody wants him - that's where he wants to be," Robby Tebow said. "We'll figure it out. They're working on the contract; all those guys doing what they're paid to do."

ESPN first reported that provisions in the quarterback's contract are causing complications in the completion of the trade.

The hang-up came hours after the Jets declared they were bringing the polarizing quarterback to New York. 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.

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.

But not everyone's a fan.

Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath, who led the Jets to their only Super Bowl title in 1969, was among those unhappy with the possible deal.

"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."

The Jets will have lots of explaining to do - no matter whether the deal goes through or falls apart. Where was the misunderstanding? Who didn't read the fine print? Why did the Jets announce the trade on its site and Facebook page before it was completely done?

Sure, they got headlines and were the talk of sports radio - even on a day when the New Orleans Saints received unprecedented punishment from the NFL for a bounty system that rocked the football world. Head coach Sean Payton was suspended without pay for next season, and former defensive coordinator Greg Williams, now with St. Louis, was banned indefinitely.

But even all that couldn't overshadow another embarrassing episode for a franchise that has had to explain away several missteps in recent years.

There have been Ryan's boasts and bold guarantees during his first three seasons as coach, something he says he'll tone down after New York finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs while the area-rival Giants won their second Super Bowl title since 2008.

In January 2010, Ryan was fined $50,000 by the team after he was caught on a cell phone camera flipping his middle finger at a fan during a mixed-martial arts competition in Sunrise, Fla. He also caught flack for his foul language on HBO's "Hard Knocks" during the 2010 preseason.

Early in that season came an NFL investigation by the league after reporter Ines Sainz, of TV Azteca, said she felt uncomfortable in the team's locker room. A few weeks later, wide receiver Braylon Edwards was arrested and charged with drunken driving.

Ryan also had to answer questions about a foot-fetish report, saying repeatedly it's "a personal matter."

The team also was fined $100,000 by the NFL for violating league rules when assistant coach Sal Alosi ordered players to form a sideline wall, then tripped Miami's Nolan Carroll during a punt return in December 2010.

Last season, Ryan was fined again, this time $75,000 by the league in November for using profanity while angrily responding to a fan at halftime of a home game against the New England Patriots. Linebacker Bart Scott was docked $10,000 by the team for an obscene gesture he made toward a photographer as the Jets cleared out their lockers following a disappointing season.

And now this.

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.

No matter where he goes, Tebow will 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.

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.

But 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."

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.

___

AP Sports Writers Doug Ferguson in Orlando, Fla., Mark Long in Jacksonville, Fla., and Arnie Stapleton and Pat Graham in Denver contributed to this report.

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Filed by Michael Klopman  |