Patriots bring on controversial quarterback Tim Tebow
FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2012, file photo, then-New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow warms up before an NFL football game in Nashville, Tenn. Tim Tebow is joining the New England Patriots, according to a report by ESPN on Monday, June 10, 2013. The high-profile quarterback who spent one season mostly on the sidelines with the New York Jets is expected to attend the start of the Patriots three-day minicamp on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)
New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo (51) tackles New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow (15) during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Quarterback Tim Tebow will be signing with the New England Patriots and joining their minicamp today, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press.
The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made, told the AP yesterday that Tebow was headed for Foxborough.
ESPN first reported that Tebow would sign with New England.
Tebow will need to pass a physical before a contract becomes official. Even when Tebow signs with the team, there is no guarantee he will make the Patriots.
One of the NFL’s most polarizing players, Tebow spent a lost season in 2012 with the New York Jets, playing sparingly behind struggling starter Mark Sanchez. Some fans thought he got a raw deal and deserved more of a chance; others thought he lacked the skills to be a pro quarterback. He was released in April.
Tebow won two national titles at Florida and was a first-round draft pick in 2010 by Denver. As a rookie, Tebow threw just 82 passes in nine games, starting three. But in 2011, he started 11 games, throwing for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions and taking the Broncos to a wild-card win over Pittsburgh before an AFC divisional playoff loss to New England, 45-10.
Despite the Broncos’ playoff run, he was traded to New York the following offseason when Denver signed Peyton Manning. Tebow threw only eight passes for the Jets, completing six, ran 32 times for 102 yards and was used mostly to protect the punter.
“Unfortunately,” Coach Rex Ryan said in a statement when Tebow was released, “things did not work out the way we all had hoped.”
The Patriots, of course, have Tom Brady as their starting quarterback, and Ryan Mallett as the backup. They released QB Mike Kafka yesterday.
Asked if Tebow had signed, Patriots spokesman Stacey James said, “I do not anticipate any additional transactions to announce tonight.”
Tebow’s NFL career appeared over when the Jets couldn’t trade him at draft time and wound up cutting the left-handed quarterback, who won the 2007 Heisman Trophy at Florida. There even was speculation he couldn’t get an offer from any Canadian Football League teams.
But now he is headed to New England, where the man who drafted him as coach of the Broncos, Josh McDaniels, is an offensive assistant under Head Coach Bill Belichick.
And other than winning Super Bowls, Belichick likes nothing better than sticking it to the Jets. Revitalizing Tebow’s career would do exactly that.
Tebow has been criticized for his throwing motion but has said he wants to play quarterback, not switch positions. Still, the Patriots could need help at tight end after Rob Gronkowski underwent a fourth operation for a broken forearm and faces back surgery. At 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds, Tebow has the size to play that spot.
Belichick values versatility in his players, having used wide receivers Troy Brown, Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater at defensive back when injuries hit that position.
Belichick also has been willing to gamble on players discarded by other teams. Some have succeeded, such as wide receivers Wes Welker and Randy Moss and running back Danny Woodhead. Some haven’t, including wide receiver Chad Johnson and defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth.
The media circus that surrounded Tebow at Florida, Denver and with the Jets could be minimized by Belichick, who keeps a tight lid on players’ interactions with reporters.