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After delay, Jets land Tebow for draft picks

By Dennis Waszak Jr.
Associated Press / March 22, 2012
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NEW YORK - Tim Tebow is coming to New York. Really.

After a big false start, the Jets Wednesday got the quarterback who turned the Broncos from an also-ran into a playoff team last season and became the NFL’s most talked-about player - for fourth- and six-round draft picks.

Now Tebowmania is opening on Broadway.

Eight hours after initially agreeing to a deal, the teams completed the trade that was hung up earlier Wednesday when the Jets apparently balked at repaying Denver more than $5 million for a salary advance due Tebow. ESPN reported that the sides had agreed to split that cost.

The Jets also will get a seventh-rounder.

Denver started shopping Tebow after signing Peyton 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 starter Mark Sanchez, who received a $40.5 million contract extension, with $20.5 million guaranteed, earlier this month. The Jets also had pursued Manning, but 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 lockout. 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.

“I think we have a duty to consider all avenues of improving the Jaguars on and off the field, especially given the unique circumstances involving the player,’’ Jaguars owner Shad Khan said in a statement. “I appreciate the high level of due diligence [general manager] Gene [Smith] and his staff dedicated to this matter, even as late as this evening, and I am very satisfied with the outcome.’’

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.

“Timsanity’’ now will 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.

“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.’’

In addition, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie criticized the move via Twitter before the trade became official.

“We don’t need Tebow. We sell out every home game let him go to Jacksonville Tampa or Miami. Our wildcat offense can b ran by J. Kerley or Joe McKnight we straight,’’ Cromartie posted.

Tebow will be expected to complement Sanchez. 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.

“As a former player, I know the last two weeks were not easy for Tim,’’ Denver’s John Elway said in a statement. “He was put in a difficult situation, and I commend him for how he handled it with the same first-class manner he displayed throughout his career in Denver.’’

Broncos coach John Fox added: “Tim works as hard as any player I’ve ever coached, and that work ethic will continue to serve him well with the Jets.’’

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.

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, where he won two national titles and a Heisman Trophy.

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