Tim Tebow, who made the Broncos arguably the biggest NFL story in 2011, may bring his athleticism and fervent followers to New York. Or maybe Jacksonville.
The Broncos have attempted to trade their star quarterback with the polarizing skill set, and a seventh-round draft pick, to the New York Jets in exchange for a fourth- and a sixth-round pick, according to an NFL source.
However, the trade hit a snag and may not happen.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Jacksonville Jaguars are back in the hunt for Tebow, along with the Jets, according to an NFL source.
Earlier, the Broncos and Jets had seemingly come to an agreement.
Photos: Best of quarterback Tim Tebow
The contract says any team acquiring Tebow has to kick back more than $5 million to the Broncos in advanced salaries from the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons, according to an NFL source.
This is what the Jets thought was Tebow's remaining contract: $1.1 million in 2012; $1.055 million in 2013; $895,000 in 2014.
Three years, $3.05 million. Instead, they're looking at three years, $8.11 million. Huge difference. Although it wouldn't take long for the human revenue machine that is Tebow to make up that $5.06 million in Tebowmania sales.
There is a decent chance this deal may die.
Tebow was to receive a base salary of $405,000 in 2011. But five days after the start of the league season — which turned out to be Aug. 6, 2011 because of the lockout — the Broncos exercised a $6,277,500 advance in guaranteed salaries.
The $6,277,500 million in advances came from salaries of four seasons: 2011 ($1,213,750); 2012 ($1,425,000); 2013 ($1,691,250) and 2014 ($1.92 million).
The Broncos paid their 2011 advanced portion (and got their money's worth as Tebow led them from a 1-4 start under Kyle Orton to the playoffs). But if Tebow is a Jet upon completion of the trade, the Jets would be assigned Tebow's contract and owe the Broncos more than $5 million. The Broncos expect the Jets, or any team acquiring Tebow, to pay them back those salary advances from 2012-14 per Tebow's contract. The Jets are balking. This deal may die.
If the trade does go through, it gives the Broncos seven picks in the seven-round 2012 NFL Draft — one in first, second and third rounds; two in the fourth round, one in the fifth, one in the sixth and none in the seventh.
The trade also sends the circus that was Tebowmania to a city big enough to handle it.
Perhaps more than any player since former Jets quarterback Joe Namath in the rebellious late-1960s, Tebow is an NFL star who crossed over to become a cultural icon.
With Namath, the popularity was about sex appeal. He helped bring the female audience to the NFL. With Tebow, it's about his strong Christian convictions, All-American persona — and ability to pull off remarkable comeback victories despite pronounced flaws as a passer.
The interest in the Jets was not a surprise. Jets' coach Rex Ryan and Tebow have the same agent in Jimmy Sexton. Ryan's offense in 2011 also seemed to badly miss Wildcat weapon Brad Smith, who became a free agent after the 2010 season and signed with Buffalo.
And Ryan wound up needing paramedic treatment after Tebow beat his Jets, 17-13 with a 95 ½-yard drive that culminated with the quarterback busting through a blitz sack of safety Erik Smith and running in for a 20-yard touchdown with 58 seconds remaining.
Afterwards, an emergency medical service (EMS) unit from the Denver Fire Department was sent to Harry B. Combs Parkway near the Denver International Airport where the Jets' charter plane was preparing to take off.
Turns out Ryan was suffering from indigestion brought on by a postgame meal which, combined with the lap-band surgery he had in March, 2010, didn't sit well.
His stomach hurting on the team bus ride to the airport, paramedics were called to meet the team at the airport as a precaution.
When paramedics arrived, one of them asked Ryan how he was doing.
"I was doing fine until (bleep-bleep) Tebow had that (bleeping) 95 yard drive," Ryan said, according to sources.
If the Jets acquire Tebow, he would first be used to help the team's sagging running game. Tebow is arguably the best 2-point conversion and Wildcat weapon in the NFL.
Ryan is a defensive-raised head coach and defensive coaches tend to appreciate Tebow more than offensive coaches because the quarterback adds physicality, toughness and energy to a team.
The Jets recently extended the contract of incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez, but better believe Ryan will feel pressure to play Tebow during the 2012 season.
The Jets, too, are forever in competition with the New York Giants for the back pages of the New York tabloids. The Giants are the defending Super Bowl champs. The Jets have Tebow.
Tebow took a Broncos team that was 4-12 in 2010 and 1-4 at the start of 2011 and led it to the AFC West title thanks to a magical run of six consecutive victories.
Tebow, 24, also lifted the Broncos to a first-round playoff win against the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers with an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime.
The quarterback was quickly placed on the trade market, though, because the Broncos signed prized free agent Peyton Manning. Although, Broncos' front-office boss John Elway and head coach John Fox believe Tebow can be a successful starting quarterback in the league, the feeling was there was not a tent big enough to handle a circus that would feature both Tebow and Manning.
Trading away Tebow hands the keys of the Broncos' franchise to Manning, whom the team just gave a $96 million contract with $18 million in full guarantees and $58 million in guarantees other than if he suffers a neck injury.
Tebow was a controversial first-round draft choice of then Broncos coach/front office boss Josh McDaniels in 2010. New regimes, though, always lead to roster turnover. Elway believes a team cannot win a Super Bowl without an elite passing attack. For all of Tebow's strengths in terms of will, competitiveness, athleticism and leadership, his 46.5 completion percentage ranked 34th in the 32-team NFL.
Even McDaniels himself had changed his mind about Tebow, giving incumbent starter Kyle Orton a contract extension months after drafting the former Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Florida.