Tebow Arrives in New England
The Associated Press
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tim Tebow is back on the field with an NFL team – the New England Patriots.
The Patriots announced the signing of the former Jets quarterback on Tuesday, six weeks after he was cut by New York and just in time for the start of the three-day Patriots minicamp that runs through Thursday.
Tebow practiced with veteran New England starter Tom Brady and backup Ryan Mallett.
The newest Patriot wore No. 5, not his familiar 15 – which belongs to
Mallett – on his shorts and helmet. The QBs wore red jerseys without
''First and foremost, I just want to thank the Patriots for giving me
an opportunity. I'm very thankful,'' Tebow said on the field after
practice. ''It's such an honor to be a Patriot and play for Coach (Bill)
Belichick and for Coach (Josh) McDaniels, learn under Tom (Brady), and
be a part of this very successful franchise.''
Two people with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press that
Tebow was signed for two years with no guaranteed money. One person says
he will make the veteran's minimum salary, $630,000 in 2013, with
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because terms of the deals had not been announced.
ESPN first reported terms of the signing.
''Anything we do, we feel is in the best interests of the team,''
Belichick said at a standing-room-only news conference before practice.
''We'll see how it goes.''
With 15 video cameras and more than 40 media members in the audience, Belichick said, ''We've been in front of bigger crowds before.''
Tebow, 25, is being reunited with McDaniels, the Patriots offensive
coordinator who was Denver's head coach when the Broncos traded into the
first round to take him with the 25th draft pick in 2010. McDaniels
stood next to Tebow on the practice field.
''I'm looking forward to working hard every single day, and getting a
lot better, and learning under some great people,'' Tebow said during
his 40-second visit with reporters. ''So, that's all I got. But thank
you so much and God bless. I'm sure we'll be talking more soon.''
There is no guarantee that Tebow will still be with the Patriots
when training camp begins next month, but if the Patriots keep him, he
would have time to develop as a quarterback since Brady holds that job.
Tebow even could be tried at tight end, where the status of Rob Gronkowski is uncertain after he had his fourth operation on his broken left forearm on May 20 and faces back surgery this month.
Asked if Tebow would be used at quarterback, Belichick, in his usual
low-key manner, said, ''we're going to do what we think is best for our
football team. We'll see.''
He also said during the news conference lasting about nine minutes that Tebow is ''a talented guy. He's smart. He works hard.''
Tebow's NFL career appeared to be over when the Jets
released him on April 29 and no team rushed to sign him. But Belichick
decided to bring in the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner who led Florida to
two national championships.
''I'm happy for the young man to
get another opportunity in the league and things like that. We've
already mentioned that it didn't work out here,'' New York coach Rex Ryan said. ''Obviously, Tim had more success in Denver than he did here.''
After the NFL draft, in which they selected quarterback Geno Smith
from West Virginia, the Jets decided to release Tebow just more than a
year after a dressed-up, high-profile press conference that welcomed him
to the organization.
New York went 6-10 last season, lost its final three games and finished tied for last place in the AFC East with Buffalo. New England, meanwhile, went 12-4, won the division and advanced to the AFC title game.
''I felt like it was a learning opportunity for me. There was a lot
that I'll take from it,'' Tebow said at the end of the season. ''There's
a lot that I learned, and there are lot of relationships that I've
built, so I know that it happened for a reason.''
Now, he joins a rival who swept the Jets last season, including an
embarrassing 49-19 loss that New York endured at home on Thanksgiving
''It's not a surprise to me that Tim would be picked up. Obviously,
as I've said before, he's a tremendous young man and very competitive. I
look forward to competing against him,'' said Ryan, who is getting used
to seeing his former players and staff members catch on elsewhere.
''If you look throughout our league now, you've got Tim with New England, (tight end) Dustin Keller in Miami and (defensive coordinator) Mike Pettine and Co. in Buffalo, so there's a lot of my former guys throughout the league,'' Ryan added. ''(Running back) Shonn Greene in Tennessee, who we're going to go up against (too). With that, I've always wished those guys the best.
''Unless they play against us, obviously.''
The last time Tebow threw a pass in Foxborough, Denver lost in the divisional playoff round to the Patriots
45-10 in the 2011 season. He completed 9 of 26 passes for 136 yards
with no touchdowns or interceptions and five sacks in that game and
gained 13 yards on five rushes.
When he was traded to the Jets with great fanfare in March 2012, there was speculation he might replace Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback.
But when Sanchez struggled, he was replaced by Greg McElroy late in the
season. Tebow threw only eight passes all year and played primarily as
the protector for the Jets' punter.
Tebow's presence on the team and absence from the field fed a media frenzy in New York.
The spotlight will be dimmer in Foxborough where Belichick
tightly controls which players can talk to the media and what they can
say. When they go beyond those limits, Belichick sometimes forbids them
from talking with reporters.
But does Belichick need any advice from Ryan on how to handle Tebow?
''Oh, please, he's not going to listen to me, and he shouldn't,''
Ryan said. ''He'll just do what he does, and that makes sense.''
Former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist sees the logic in the Patriots' decision to bring Tebow to minicamp.
''If you can find a club that's mature enough to handle it as an
organization, then you're going to find the right spot for him,''
Sundquist said. ''What I mean by that is all the media mania and that
sort of thing. The club says, 'Look, this is the reason we're bringing
him on. We feel he can bring X, Y, Z and A, B, C to the table.'
''Explain it to Tim, explain it to the media, explain it to your fan base and explain it to your organization.''
The Patriots run a complex offense and Tebow had trouble grasping the strategy in Denver. But the presence of McDaniels could help him.
''If there's one guy in the NFL who's a fan of Tim Tebow or pulling for him, it would be Josh McDaniels,'' said former Jets and Patriots offensive lineman Damien Woody, now an ESPN analyst.
''I think they'll take their time
developing him,'' Woody said. ''The Patriots are one of those teams
that like to develop guys, and they'll even trade them if it works in
their favor. In the more immediate future, having played in New England,
I know one thing they value is versatility. They're going to try to use
Tebow in positions where they feel they can maximize his talent.''
As an NFL rookie in 2010, Tebow threw just 82 passes in nine games, starting three.
In 2011, he started 11 games and threw for 12 touchdowns and six
interceptions. He led Denver to a wild-card win over Pittsburgh before
the divisional loss to New England.
He was traded to New York after that season when Denver signed Peyton Manning. With the Jets, Tebow completed six of eight passes and ran 32 times for 102 yards.
Tebow, who won the Heisman as a sophomore, has 2,422 passing yards and a 75.3 rating as an NFL quarterback.
AP sports writers Larry Lage in Detroit, Dennis Waszak Jr., in
Florham Park, N.J., and Barry Wilner in New York contributed to this