The New York Jets released Tim Tebow, ending a failed one-season experiment with the fan-favorite quarterback who was never given a shot to lead the team.
The Jets announced the release of Tebow after selecting quarterback Geno Smith in the National Football League draft.
“We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said in a statement. “Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped.”
Tebow, 25, played in 12 games last season after being acquired by the Jets in a trade with the Denver Broncos in March 2012. The previous season, he led the Broncos to the playoffs, then was voted America’s favorite active pro athlete in an ESPN fan-based poll. He spawned a fad known as “Tebowing” through his kneel-and-pray pose after victories and has been outspoken in professing his Christian beliefs.
Ryan never showed much faith in Tebow’s ability at quarterback last season, when the team went 6-10 to miss the playoffs for the second straight year.
Tebow was the No. 2 quarterback to Mark Sanchez, though he was passed over for third-stringer Greg McElroy when Sanchez was benched. After McElroy was injured, Ryan re-inserted Sanchez in the starting lineup for the team’s final game rather than give Tebow a chance.
After he rushed for 660 yards in 2011 for Denver, the Jets’ initial plan was to use Tebow in their wildcat offense, a package featuring runs and passes by the quarterback to try to confuse defenses. Tebow completed six of eight pass attempts and rushed for 102 yards.
Mike Westhoff, the Jets’ special-teams coach who retired at the end of last season, said in a January interview with WQAM Radio in Florida that Tebow’s campaign in New York was an “absolute mess” and that he was “still waiting for the unveiling” of the Jets’ offensive package that was to be run by Tebow.
Tebow joined New York with a seventh-round draft pick in exchange for fourth- and sixth-round selections. The moves ended up costing the Jets $4 million, including $1.5 million in salary and $2.5 million they paid Denver to complete the trade, according to ESPN.
The move is the latest by the Jets’ new general manager, John Idzik, who was hired in January following the firing of Mike Tannenbaum.
Idzik’s biggest move came a week ago, when he traded All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 13th pick in the draft and a third- or fourth-rounder in 2014. New York then drafted University of Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner with its own selection at No. 9 and used the No. 13 pick to take defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson out of the University of Missouri.
Smith, 22, was added in the second round with the draft’s 39th selection. The four-year West Virginia University player passed for 11,662 yards and 98 touchdowns during his college career, throwing for more than 300 yards in a game 17 times.
Other quarterbacks added before the draft were free-agent David Garrard, who didn’t play in the NFL the past two seasons, and Matt Simms, who played at the University of Tennessee and was in training camp with the Jets last year.
The 26-year-old Sanchez, the fifth pick in the 2009 draft, had an NFL-high 53 turnovers the past two seasons, including 36 interceptions. He’s owed $8.25 million for 2013.
Denver traded Tebow, who won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s top player while at the University of Florida, one day after signing four-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning.
Tebow won two national championships at Florida and entered the NFL as a running quarterback with questionable passing skills. He went 7-4 as a regular-season starter in Denver, helping the team make the playoffs after it opened the season at 1-4. Tebow guided the Broncos to five fourth-quarter comeback wins even though he only had a 46.5 completion percentage, the worst among NFL starting quarterbacks.
He departs New York having thrown for 39 yards.
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