Source: Tim Tebow won't return to Jets in 2013

Tim Tebow walks off the field after a Tim Tebow walks off the field after a game against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. (Oct. 28, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets ushered in the Tim Tebow Era last spring with promises of a potent offensive threat and a top-secret Wildcat package that would catch the league off guard.

But after 15 weeks of wasted opportunity and sporadic misuse, the Jets are prepared to part ways with their headline-grabbing acquisition. A league source confirmed to Newsday yesterday that Tebow won't return next season, as the Jets will try to trade him during the offseason. If a partner can't be found, the Jets will release him before the free-agency period in March, the source said.

The news comes a day after the backup quarterback expressed visible frustration in the locker room over limited playing time. Desperate to add flair to their offense, the Jets sent fourth- and sixth-round draft picks to Denver for Tebow and a seventh-round pick last March. The Jets committed $3.6 million -- $1.6 million in salary and bonuses for Tebow, plus a $2-million payout to the Broncos. But early in the regular season, it was clear their plan wasn't working.

"Some things are hard to understand," Tebow said Wednesday, a day after he learned Rex Ryan had named third-stringer Greg McElroy to start over Mark Sanchez Sunday.

"All you can ask for and all you want is a chance," Tebow later said. "A chance, to go out there and play the game you love and help this team win football games. That's all I wanted."

Sanchez, too, would like another chance, but the Jets also will explore trading or cutting him. There's a chance Sanchez, who is owed a guaranteed $8.25 million in 2013, will remain with the team. A league source told Newsday nothing has been determined because trade talks can't begin until March.

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Ryan feigned ignorance Thursday when asked about the Sanchez trade rumors.

"That didn't come from me," he said with a laugh. "Anything that is dealing with the future past [Week 17], I think will be handled after that. So whatever the decision will be, will be handled then.

"It's not something I'm concerned with right now. We have two games to play in and that's where my focus is. So that's news to me."

When pressed about his lackluster endorsement of Sanchez, Ryan said: "Whether it's not a ringing endorsement or whatever, if that's a true statement, it's not a true statement, I have absolutely zero focus on that right now."

Ryan also said he wasn't ready to disclose who his No. 2 quarterback will be Sunday.

Tebow has been given only 72 offensive snaps in 11 games. But when pressed about Tebow's limited use and his lack of Wildcat success, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano couldn't pinpoint whether their overestimation of Tebow's talent was to blame, or if the coaching staff has failed to use him properly.

"At the end of the day, he's played however many plays he's played going into this game and that's where we are," said Sparano, once seen as the guru of the trick formation.

Their substitutions of Tebow and Sanchez often have been head-scratching, most glaringly Ryan's pregame decision to give Tebow his first full series of the season Monday night, in a game the Jets had to win to make the playoffs, and regardless of the score. But Sparano said their use of Tebow hasn't been disruptive to Sanchez.

"It's not different than handing Shonn Greene the football," Sparano said. " . . . Tim gives us another option to do that and he gives us the threat of being able to throw."

Tebow has thrown eight passes and rushed 32 times for 102 yards and no touchdowns.

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Asked if he thought Tebow had been given a fair chance to succeed, Sparano said, "It's not for me to decide.

"I'm not going to get into all that, fair shake, not fair shake. Listen, Tim has played his role and done his role as well as to be expected right now. In other words, he's done everything we've asked him to do."

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