Tim Tebow might still have a future in the NFL after all.
The New England Patriots seem to think so and plan to sign him today if he passes a physical.
He won’t be a starting quarterback, of course, with Tom Brady on hand. But it’s an intriguing reclamation project – and yet another chance for coach Bill Belichick to torture the New York Jets, who couldn’t find a role for Tebow last season.
A person familiar with the situation said Tebow will join the Patriots’ minicamp today and sign with the team, pending the medical exam. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made.
The Patriots have Ryan Mallett as the backup to Brady; they released quarterback Mike Kafka on Monday.
Asked whether Tebow had signed, Patriots spokesman Stacey James said, “I do not anticipate any additional transactions to announce tonight.”
Tebow spent a lost season in 2012 with the New York Jets, playing sparingly behind struggling starter Mark Sanchez.
Tebow won two national titles at Florida and was a first-round draft pick in 2010 by Denver. As a rookie, Tebow threw just 82 passes in nine games, starting three. But in 2011, he started 11 games, throwing for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions, and took the Broncos to a wild-card win over Pittsburgh before an AFC divisional playoff loss to New England, 45-10.
Despite the Broncos’ playoff run, Tebow was traded to New York when Denver signed Peyton Manning. Tebow threw only eight passes for the Jets, completing six, ran 32 times for 102 yards and was used mostly to protect the punter.
The man who drafted Tebow as coach of the Broncos, Josh McDaniels, is an offensive assistant for the Patriots.
Tebow has been criticized for his throwing motion but has said he wants to play quarterback, not switch positions. Still, the Patriots might need help at tight end after Rob Gronkowski underwent a fourth operation for a broken forearm and faces back surgery. At 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds, Tebow has the size to play that spot.
Belichick values versatility in his players, having used wide receivers at defensive back.
Belichick also has been willing to gamble on players discarded by other teams. Some have succeeded, like wide receivers Wes Welker and Randy Moss and running back Danny Woodhead. Some haven’t, including wide receiver Chad Johnson and defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth.
The media circus that surrounded Tebow in Denver and with the Jets also could be minimized by Belichick, who keeps a tight lid on players’ interactions with reporters.