Unusually quiet in recent weeks, the New York Jets shattered the calm Wednesday by completing a trade for polarizing quarterback Tim Tebow.

The Jets sent two picks — a fourth-rounder and sixth-rounder in 2012 — to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a seventh-round selection.

Tebow, a former first-round pick, went on the trading block Monday when the Broncos secured free agent Peyton Manning, who signed a five-year, $96 million contract.

Several teams expressed interest, including Tebow’s hometown Jacksonville Jaguars, but the Jets — perceived as a sleeper at the outset — pulled off the splashiest trade of the offseason.

Tebow — he has three years remaining on his contract, with a base salary in 2012 of $1.1 million — will join a cast of backups behind incumbent Mark Sanchez, but his presence could ignite a quarterback controversy. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie tweeted before the trade that “we don’t need Tebow,” expressing his confidence in Sanchez and the current roster.

Asked on Tuesday what he thought it would be like to play with a player of Tebow’s caliber, Sanchez told FoxSportsRadio in Los Angeles, “I think Peyton (Manning) will do great, I think Tim will do great no matter what happens. He’s either going to get a great chance to learn from one of the best quarterbacks to ever play, or he moves on somewhere else and he uses his skills at another ballclub. He definitely has talent. He knows how to win, he knows how to inspire players.”

The timing of the trade is curious.

Two weeks ago, the Jets gave Sanchez a three-year, $40.5 million contract extension, professing their faith in him even though he regressed in certain areas last season. They signed former Detroit Lions backup Drew Stanton last week to be their No. 2 quarterback, handing him a $500,000 signing bonus. They also have former Alabama star Greg McElroy.

The Jets see Tebow as a change-of-pace player with the ability to run the wildcat offense. They’ve used the wildcat in recent years, but cut back last season with the departure of Brad Smith. The new offensive coordinator is Tony Sparano, who introduced the wildcat to the NFL as coach of the Miami Dolphins.

Coach Rex Ryan also wants the Jets to get back to being a power-running team, but they have only one proven back, Shonn Greene. The 6-foot-3, 238-pound Tebow rushed for 660 yards last season, including a 20-yard touchdown in the final minute to beat the Jets, 17-14, in a November game at Denver.

A few weeks earlier, Tebow beat Sparano and the Dolphins with one of his trademark comebacks, overcoming a 15-0 deficit to win in overtime, 18-15.

There’s also some thought that Tebow and his clean-cut image could help polish the negative perception of the locker room, torn by discord last season. But others close to the team said that was no factor whatsoever in the decision.

But there could be potential backlash for the Jets. Tebow’s enormous popularity could turn into a distraction, especially for Sanchez. If Sanchez struggles, the fan base ostensibly could turn on him and start clamoring for Tebow.

This also will be an adjustment for Tebow as he returns to a backup role. He became one of the most popular athletes in the nation last season, replacing Kyle Orton and leading the Broncos — seemingly dead after a 1-4 start — to an 8-8 record and the AFC West title. He did it with a run of miraculous finishes, one more improbable than the next.

Tebow won his first playoff game, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers with an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime. The following week, Tebow crashed hard in a 45-10 loss to the New England Patriots.

Broncos executive John Elway anointed Tebow as the starting quarterback going into training camp, but that didn’t prevent him from entering the Manning sweepstakes.

Clearly, the Broncos were troubled by his flawed mechanics as a passer. Tebow completed only 46.5 percent of his throws last season.

It should be interesting to see how Tebow is welcomed in the locker room. During the run-up to last November’s game, the Jets’ defensive players weren’t complimentary when discussing his passing skills. Cornerback Darelle Revis said Tebow’s unorthodox style as an option quarterback couldn’t sustain long-term success in the NFL.

As it turned out, Tebow made the playoffs and Sanchez didn’t. Sanchez struggled down the stretch, fueling speculation about his future. Publicly, team officials backed him, but also promised the quarterback depth chart would have a different look in 2012.

via ESPN

Posted x @MassAppealMike

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