October 21, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
51°F

NFL: Tebow mania is back

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tim Tebow finally has a new team.

The New England Patriots announced the signing of the polarizing quarterback with the poor throwing motion on Tuesday, six weeks after he was cut by the New York Jets and just in time for the start of the three-day minicamp that runs through Thursday.

Tim Tebow prepares to make a pass during New England’s practice. (AP PHOTO)

Tebow, 25, is being reunited with Josh McDaniels, the Patriots offensive coordinator who was Denver’s head coach when the Broncos traded into the first round to take him with the 25th draft pick in 2010.

There is no guarantee that Tebow will still be with the Patriots when training camp begins next month, but if the Patriots keep him, he would have time to develop as a quarterback since Tom Brady holds that job. Tebow even could be tried at tight end, where the status of Rob Gronkowski is uncertain after he had his fourth operation on his broken left forearm on May 20 and faces back surgery this month.

Tebow’s NFL career appeared to be over when the Jets released him on April 29 and no team rushed to sign him. But Patriots coach Bill Belichick decided to bring in the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner who led Florida to two national championships.

After the NFL Draft, in which they selected quarterback Geno Smith from West Virginia, the Jets decided to release Tebow just more than a year after a dressed-up, high-profile press conference that welcomed him to the organization.

New York went 6-10 last season, lost its final three games and finished tied for last place in the AFC East with Buffalo. New England, meanwhile, went 12-4, won the division and advanced to the AFC title game.

“I felt like it was a learning opportunity for me. There was a lot that I’ll take from it,” Tebow said at the end of the season. “There’s a lot that I learned, and there are lot of relationships that I’ve built, so I know that it happened for a reason.”

Now, he joins a rival who swept the Jets last season, including an embarrassing 49-19 loss that New York endured at home on Thanksgiving night.

“We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow. Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said in April. “Tim is an extremely hard worker, evident by the shape he came back in this offseason. We wish him the best moving forward.”

The last time Tebow threw a pass in Foxborough, Denver lost in the divisional playoff round to the Patriots 45-10 in the 2011 season. He completed 9 of 26 passes for 136 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and five sacks in that game and gained 13 yards on five rushes.

When he was traded to the Jets with great fanfare in March 2012, there was speculation he might replace Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback. But when Sanchez struggled, he was replaced by Greg McElroy late in the season. Tebow threw only eight passes all year and played primarily as the protector for the Jets’ punter.

Tebow’s presence on the team and absence from the field fed a media frenzy in New York.