Saturday is one of the toughest, if not the most difficult, days on the NFL calendar – cutdown day.
The Patriots have begun making their cuts in advance of Saturday’s 6 p.m. deadline to trim the roster to 53, and among the players league sources have confirmed are not making the team is quarterback Tim Tebow.
The Patriots are also releasing punter Zoltan Mesko. That the Patriots kept undrafted rookie Ryan Allen around for as long as they had indicated there was a true competition between Mesko and the Louisiana Tech product.
Tebow is a former first-round draft pick who has become a fascinating figure during his relatively brief time in the NFL. He is beloved by Florida fans and many college football fans in general for his national title and Heisman Trophy-winning time with the Gators, but there was debate even before he was drafted as to whether or not Tebow had the skills required to play quarterback as a professional.
He did start 11 regular-season games for the Broncos in 2011, going 7-4 and leading Denver to a thrilling overtime postseason win against Pittsburgh before getting blown out the next week in New England.
Through training camp and the four preseason games, it appeared Mesko had an edge on Allen, so the deciding factor was likely cost: Mesko was slated to make $1.323 million this season, with Allen on the books for the rookie minimum of $405,000.
In 2012, after the Broncos acquired Peyton Manning, Tebow was traded to the Jets, and he made little to no impact with New York, used in Wildcat formations and on special teams.
Cut by the Jets earlier this year, Tebow was on the market for more than five weeks before signing with the Patriots, where the man who drafted him in Denver, Josh McDaniels, is now offensive coordinator.
Throughout training camp and in his three preseason appearances, the number of head-scratching plays from Tebow far outnumbered the standout ones, as it became clear that he lacks the two things Bill Belichick has said over and over are the top requirements for good quarterback play: accuracy and decision-making.
Tebow was 11-for-30 (36.7 percent) for 145 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and seven sacks in the preseason. He had his best outing in the finale against the Giants, when he threw both touchdown passes, to Quentin Sims.
This could spell the end of the road for Tebow in the NFL.
Defensive linemen Jermaine Cunningham and Marcus Forston were also among the Patriots cut Saturday, league sources confirmed to the Globe.
According to a report, running back George Winn would not make the 53-man roster.