Though much roster fluctuation is likely between Saturday's conclusion of the NFL draft and Week 1 of the 2013 regular season, it would stand to reason that a second year of the Tim Tebow experiment in New York is about as likely as a redux of the Bubby Brister era.
The former Heisman trophy winner whose disappearance during the 2012 season made him one of the worst acquisitions in recent history, Tebow's woebegone time with the Jets has become something of legend.
Acquired to provide competition for struggling incumbent Mark Sanchez and provide a spark to the Jets offense, Tebow did anything but last season. He threw exactly six passes, completing eight for 39 yards. Adding only 102 yards on 32 carries as a runner, mostly in Wildcat situations, Tebow's most notable moments in a Jets uniform came as a member of the special teams unit.
And that spark? There were more electric moments during games of canasta at local rest homes than there were magical Tebow moments in the Big Apple. He was the forgotten clipboard holder. A glorified show pony brought in to create headlines and incite distraction. He was eventually dispatched to the third team in favor of Greg McElroy, the former Alabama quarterback who can most positively be described as "scrappy."
Tebow, one year after captivating the nation's attention as the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos, was on a quick path to irrelevancy. He was, for lack of better term, the butt fumble of the joke.
That path, with Tebow rapidly fading to the background, has only continued this offseason. The Jets brought in veteran quarterback David Garrard this winter to ostensibly compete with Sanchez and McElroy for the starting job. Though he's been out of football for each of the past two seasons, the implication was clear that Tebow was only a tertiary concern.
Friday night may have been the final nail in the coffin. Having spent their first two picks on bolstering an aging defense, divine intervention perhaps stepped in and gave the Jets their quarterback of the future.
On the clock at No. 39, New York and all of Radio City Music Hall was shocked to see West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith on the board. An initial contender for the No. 1 overall pick after the college football season, Smith had shockingly free-fallen his way out of the first round. With the risk of drafting Smith having plummeted since their last selection at No. 13, the Jets did what some expected them to do with one of their initial picks—they made the former Mountaineer a New Yorker.
The implications of drafting Smith are as sweeping as one would expect. Including Smith and practice squader Matt Simms, the Jets have six quarterbacks on their roster. It doesn't take a nuclear physicist to figure out that at least one (and likely two) of those signal-callers will be looking for a new home.
Surprisingly, Tebow hasn't been the quarterback most oft-mentioned as the impending departure since Smith's selection. The focus has instead shifted on incumbent starter Sanchez, he of the Broadway prices and coffee house improve troupe performance.
Mike Greenberg @Espngreeny
The #Jets absolutely have to release Sanchez, no matter what it costs.4/27/2013, 12:28:26 AM
What's more, OnlyGators.com's Twitter feed noted that ESPN's Adam Schefter said during the NFL draft broadcast that the Jets like what they've seen from Tebow this offseason:
Only Gators .com @onlygators
"Jets actually like what they've seen from Tim Tebow [this offseason]." - ESPN's @AdamSchefter, #Gators4/27/2013, 2:20:54 AM
New York may like what it's seen from Tebow, but the cost-benefit analysis makes him the far more likely imminent departure. ESPN's Greenberg may not care what it costs the Jets to release Sanchez, but the team's salary cap certainly does. As ESPN's Rich Cimini points out, Sanchez's massive contract comes with implications that could prove crippling if he's cut:
Rich Cimini @RichCimini
The Jets can't cut Sanchez, $17M hit. If they cut him with 6/1 designation, he'd count $12.4M on '13 cap, $4.8M next yr. Currently, $12.9M4/26/2013, 11:21:33 PM
Tebow's contract isn't even close to being as prohibitive. According to Spotrac, the Jets would face a surcharge of about $1.53 million on their 2013 cap based on his dead money. Juxtaposed with his $2.59 million base salary, New York would be saving around $1.06 million on its cap for next season by releasing Tebow and wouldn't have to pay him a dime in 2014.
Speaking about Sanchez's situation in particular, former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia could see no overarching reason to bring Tebow back.
"It's their decision, but from an outsider looking in, having Tebow there doesn't bring anything positive," said Garcia (via ESPN's Rich Cimini). "It just brings distraction. For Mark, the main competition is going to be David Garrard and Greg McElroy."
With his departure all but cemented, the biggest question from Tebow's perspective is what this means for his career.
It's been widely known that the former Florida star has been on the block almost from the moment the final whistle sounded for the 2012 regular season. The Jets were chewing other teams' ears off at the scouting combine in February, and they hadn't stopped in the lead up to this week's draft, per ESPN's James Walker.
So with Tebow still technically on the roster heading into Saturday's draft festivities, it's safe to say the market hasn't exactly been robust. New York hasn't been looking for a high pick or even to match the fourth-round and sixth-round selections it gave up a year ago. General manager John Idzik simply wants anything in return to show this entire experiment wasn't a waste.
Even if Saturday's draft comes and goes without an offer, the time has come to move on. The situation has long passed its point of no return, and having six quarterbacks on the roster would do nothing but impede the development of Smith—the team's ostensible franchise signal-caller.
Tim Tebow may have a future as an NFL quarterback; it's just not in New York City.
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