With reports out that Peyton Manning has decided to sign with the Denver Broncos, it appears that John Elway will finally be able to divorce himself from Tim Tebow, with whom he has had a complicated relationship.
Over the weekend, John Clayton of ESPN claimed, in a radio interview, that he saw the Patriots as a viable trading partner for Tebow should that happen.
In a sense, this would not be surprising.
After all, it would reunite Tebow with the man who had the most faith in him, his former head coach, Josh McDaniels, who has returned to the Patriots as offensive coordinator.
McDaniels has actually done well working with whatever talent is at hand; after all, in 2007 he was in charge of the first offense to score 50 passing TDs in one season, and then, a year later, with a very green Matt Cassel, just barely missed the playoffs after going 11–5.
Moreover, there's no question that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is a fan of Tebow. When interviewed about the possibility of Wildcat offenses in 2009, Belichick gushed about Tebow in an interview with Sports Illustrated (at least as much Belichick gushes about anyone), stating that "Tebow, obviously, is a special one.''
Talking to the media before the December 2011 game against the Tebow-led Broncos, Belichick stated "He was an impressive young man, [a] great leader, great football character. He made a lot of big plays for Florida and won two national championships.”
Belichick and player personnel director Nick Caserio were even spotted dining with Tebow at one of Boston's trendier restaurants, Tresca (which is owned by Ray Bourque).
Given Bill Belichick's penchant for being the model for other team's imitations (see the 3-4 defense and the multiple-TE attack), it's not hard to imagine Belichick scheming up ways to get Tebow on the field.
But there lies the problem with such a scenario.
It's clear that there is no way that Tebow is going to play quarterback in New England in 2012. Even in the nightmare scenario of Brady getting injured, Belichick would turn to one of Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett well before he would turn to Tebow.
Also, while Belichick is not opposed to getting a return on his investments (as in the Pats franchising Matt Cassel after 2008), it seems unlikely that he would want to stand in the way of Tebow trying to be a starting QB, which certainly would happen if he became a Patriot.
A third reason that Belichick probably wouldn't trade for Tebow is that he does have concerns about running QBs in general. While the quote about Tebow being special made a splash in the runup to the 2010 NFL draft, another Belichick quote from that same SI article didn't.
"How many times can he carry the ball," the article asked, "making himself a threat without getting, as Belichick says, 'broken in half?"
Finally, there's the issue of compensation. While the Patriots do have extra picks in this year's draft, they only have six picks total (and none, at the moment, after the fourth round), and it's not at all clear that Tebow has enough value to New England to justify the Patriots spending a draft pick on him.
All in all, while there is some logic suggesting Tebow to New England is a possibility, it's just not likely.
Update (1:15 PM ET): Charlie Casserly, in an interview in USA Today, says he believes Tebow's trade value is unlikely to be "much better than a fifth-round pick." At the moment, the Pats don't have a fifth, but they could make a trade similar to the one in 2010 in which they traded running back Laurence Maroney and a sixth-round pick to Denver for a fourth-round pick.