The New York Jets finally, mercifully, released Tebow Monday morning, after drafting West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in the early part of the second round Saturday night. Depending on how you feel about Smith’s prospects, the Jets seem to be making stockpiling mediocre quarterbacks the franchise’s second sport: After drafting Smith and acquiring veteran David Garrard in free agency, New York was six-deep at quarterback. With Tebow gone, they’re down to five.
“We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow,” coach Rex Ryan told ESPN. “Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped. Tim is an extremely hard worker, evident by the shape he came back in this offseason. We wish him the best moving forward.”
Tebow can be claimed off the waiver wire by another team at 4 p.m. today. His time in New York cost the Jets a fourth-round pick and $1.5 million in salary, plus $2.5 million they had to pay the Broncos as part of the trade.
That leaves the Jets with pricey, disappointing starter Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, Garrard, Matt Simms, and newcomer Smith. And unless Smith surprises a lot of people by making an impact early, none of this bodes well for the crumbling Jets, or their exasperated fans.
"Butt-fumble" aside, Sanchez’s stock has never been lower: He was dismal last season, and the media circus surrounding Tebow couldn’t have helped his confidence. If things don’t turn around for him early this season, he’ll be holding a clipboard by August, and the starting job will go to Smith.
And according to some, that might not be any better. Rich Cimini wrote on ESPN.com Saturday that the Jets' drafting of Smith was a total hedge bet, demonstrating a lack of confidence in all of their options. They waited three picks to take Smith, after all. (They took two players in the first round.)
“Their lack of faith in Mark Sanchez was greater than their love for Geno Smith,” Cimini wrote. “If they considered Smith a franchise quarterback, the New York Jets would've taken him with their first pick, ninth overall. If they were convinced he'd be a step below elite, they would've stopped his infamous slide with their second pick, 13th overall…. The Jets were willing to take the chance because they're so, so down on Sanchez.”
Cimini then quoted an anonymous source who said that Smith would be best “holding the clipboard a little.” In New York, he may not get that chance.
Meanwhile, what’s next for Tebow?
He’ll keep trying to play quarterback, it seems. Tebow was attending all of the Jets’ optional workouts before being cut. He spent the offseason in Florida working on his throwing mechanics, and he showed up to minicamp 12 pounds lighter, according to the Jets. But QB may not be where he’s wanted.
After Tebow barely played in New York, being passed over for McElroy after Sanchez’s late-season flameout, his agent was allowed to seek trade possibilities as early as last month, and a few teams around the league reportedly expressed interest – if he’d switch positions. He wouldn’t. It’s possible that a team could still pick him up as a second backup: New Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman has gushed about Tebow in the past, and he could make for a serviceable backup on a read-option team, like the Redskins or the 49ers (if they need one).
The other oft-mentioned option: the Canadian Football League, which has a wider field and a style of play that some see as more conducive to Tebow’s skill set. Thus far, he’s shown no signs of even entertaining the possibility, but that could change if he can’t find an NFL fit.
Or he could just get his motivational speaking career started early. He’s shown plenty of promise on that front.