At the end of one of the wildest days in their long and mostly unfortunate history of these off-field situations, the Jets got their man. Quarterback Tim Tebow is coming to New York after the Jets completed an exhaustive process that ultimately resulted in Tebow being traded from the Broncos.
Too bad it all worked out Wednesday for coach Rex Ryan, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson. By acquiring one of the most talked-about players the NFL has seen in years, they opened a can of worms that could have lasting consequences for a franchise that has dealt with so much failure in the 43 years since it won its only Super Bowl.
Not long after signing Mark Sanchez to a three-year extension and pronouncing him their unquestioned quarterback of the future, they acquired a player who renders that declaration almost laughable. No matter how the Jets spin this move, no matter how often they continue to say that Sanchez is still their guy, how can you not think it is only a matter of time before Tebow takes over as the starter?
That may please those who believe Tebow can be a sustained winner in the NFL, but to those who believe his quarterback skills aren't good enough, this is the prescription for an eventual implosion like so many other Jets' failures.
Tebow has spent most of his life trying to disprove the doubters, and he had an impressive run of comeback victories last year. But if the Broncos and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, their vice president of football operations, truly believed Tebow was the long-term solution, they would never have signed Peyton Manning to a five-year contract only a few days shy of his 36th birthday and a few months after a fourth neck surgery.
The Jets committed $20 million in guaranteed money to Sanchez over the next two years, which all but guaranteed he'd be the starter over that period. But how long will it take for their fans to beat the drums for a change now that Tebow is here? Will it take a few bad games for Sanchez? A few bad quarters? A few bad passes?
Or will it take even that long? Chances are the Jets will feel pressure to make a change even before their offseason training program next month.
If the Jets believed so much in Sanchez, they never should have made this trade. And if they had their doubts about Sanchez's long-term viability, then why did they extend his deal? Remember, Tannenbaum said this wasn't just about clearing salary- cap room; it was about committing to Sanchez long term.
No matter what the Jets' plans are for Tebow, even if it's just as a gadget quarterback in the "Wildcat" formations preferred by new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, or as an H-back, or as Sanchez's backup, there is an air of inevitability to the whole situation. It makes you wonder how the Jets can possibly avoid the controversy that seems sure to take place.
Are the Jets that arrogant to think they can have Tebow and not experience the kind of quarterback debate that can tear a team apart?
Evidently, they are, because Tebow joins a team whose level of dysfunction was dangerously high last year. Ryan said he was out of touch with how bad the locker room had become. But how can adding a quarterback -- even if the coach insists publicly that Sanchez's status is not threatened -- be a healthy development?
There is a growing loyalty to Sanchez in the locker room -- his rocky relationship with Santonio Holmes notwithstanding -- that will be tested in a way that didn't have to happen. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie all but begged the team on his Twitter account not to trade for Tebow, saying Sanchez needs to be the unquestioned leader. Center Nick Mangold, tight end Dustin Keller and others have professed their loyalty to the fourth-year quarterback.
Throw Tebow into the mix, and you're pouring gasoline onto an already combustible locker room situation. After a day-long drama that ultimately resulted in the Jets' getting their man, they just lit the match.