Sources: Jets up Tim Tebow interest

Updated: March 21, 2012, 1:56 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

The New York Jets' interest in Tim Tebow has intensified, two sources said Tuesday night.

One day after lurking on the periphery of the trade talks, the Jets now are one of several teams showing interest in the Denver Broncos' quarterback. The Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and possibly others, also are among his suitors, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The Dolphins, originally thought of as a team interested in Tebow, now are unlikely to pursue the former Heisman Trophy winner, a league source told Schefter.

On Monday, the Jets began internal discussions regarding Tebow as soon as he became expendable with the arrival of Peyton Manning in Denver, but were considered a "long shot at best," according to a league source.

The Jets signed former Detroit Lions quarterback Drew Stanton last week to back up Mark Sanchez, giving Stanton a $500,000 signing bonus, but the availability of Tebow -- though not unexpected -- has prompted the team's decision makers to reassess the quarterback position.

The team is concerned about the negative perception of its locker room, which was divided by player unrest last season, and "bringing in a guy like (Tebow) would help," one source said. "It makes perfect sense."

The Jets are also intrigued by what Tebow could do in the wildcat offense. New York's new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano introduced the wildcat to the NFL as coach of the Miami Dolphins. That, coupled with coach Rex Ryan's desire to be a power-running team, has fueled organizational discussion on Tebow.

On the downside, there's concern Tebow's presence could create a distraction for the incumbent Sanchez, whose leadership came into question after the season. Sanchez recently received a three-year contract extension with $20.5 million in guarantees, all but ensuring he'll be the starter for at least the next two years.

"I don't know how he'd handle it," one source said of Sanchez. "That would be interesting."

General manager Mike Tannenbaum, on a conference call Tuesday, declined to discuss Tebow because he's under contract to another team.

Tannenbaum said they "feel good about where we are now" at quarterback, but didn't rule out the possibility of pursuing another.

It's unclear if the Jets have made a formal offer to the Broncos, who reportedly have received interest from several teams. The Jets have seven draft picks as bargaining chips -- one in each round -- plus they might be able to offer Denver a player. They previously have shopped right tackle Wayne Hunter and linebacker Bart Scott in unrelated trade talks.

At least one member of the Jets didn't sound too thrilled about the prospect of Tebow.

"We don't need Tebow," cornerback Antonio Cromartie tweeted. "We sell out every home game let him go to Jacksonville Tampa or Miami. Our wildcat offense can b ran by J. Kerley or Joe McKnight."

Cromartie also tweeted, "We have (Sanchez) and just signed Drew. Mark has taken us to 2 AFC championship game. We need to build on the team we have now."

Tebow took over a 1-4 team from Kyle Orton last year and led the Broncos to an 8-8 finish and the AFC West crown with a series of stirring comebacks that captured the attention of the football world.

Tebow-mania reached its apex in the playoffs, when he threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the very first play of overtime to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. The next week, though, Tebow was smothered by the New England Patriots, who easily eliminated the Broncos, 45-10.

Tebow's base salaries for the next few seasons are very cap friendly: $1.942 million in 2012, $2.266 million in 2013 and $2.590 million in 2014.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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