Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow watches from the sidelines during...

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow watches from the sidelines during the first half. (Jan. 14, 2012) Credit: AP

No sooner did the Broncos welcome Peyton Manning as their newest quarterback than the speculation began to swirl about Tim Tebow's next team.

The Jets are among the teams giving serious consideration to trading for Tebow. According to two league sources familiar with the situation, the Jets have had intense internal discussions about Tebow, and there is at least a faction in their front office in favor of bringing him in to back up Mark Sanchez. Tebow also could be used in the Wildcat formations new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano likes to use.

That doesn't guarantee the Jets will trade for Tebow, because other teams are likely to have interest, including the Jaguars. Tebow grew up in Jacksonville and starred at Florida, where he won the Heisman Trophy and helped win two national championships. Other teams that may have an interest include the Packers, who liked Tebow coming out of college in 2010, and the Dolphins.

Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum declined to comment Tuesday about Tebow, citing the league's anti-tampering rules prohibiting officials from speaking publicly about players under contract with other teams. The Jets signed backup quarterback Drew Stanton last week, and Tannenbaum expressed satisfaction with his quarterbacks on a conference call.

But he did leave the door open on Tebow without mentioning his name.

"I'll give you my standard answer, which is you never know if other opportunities present themselves," he said. "We'll always look at it, that's the standard line there, but we feel good about Greg [McElroy], Drew and Mark and see where we go from there."

The Jets' interest in Tebow appears to have increased since Manning made his choice Monday morning to join the Broncos. A league source said Monday that chances of the Jets trading for Tebow were "very remote," but backed off that statement last night. Other reports suggested the Jets had a legitimate interest in trading for Tebow.

There may not be unanimity in the team's view of Tebow, however. Two league sources told Newsday last night they would be surprised if the Jets traded for Tebow, with one saying he would be "shocked" to see the move.

But the Jets pulled off surprises at quarterback before. In August 2008, they traded for Brett Favre and released Chad Pennington. Two weeks ago, they explored signing Manning as a free agent, although he did not include the Jets on his list of finalists. Jets owner Woody Johnson said last week the Jets "passed on" Manning.

After that, the Jets agreed to a three-year extension for Sanchez through 2016. The deal includes $20 million in guaranteed salary in 2012-13, meaning he is essentially locked into the starting job for those seasons.

Then again, Tebow went into last season as the backup to Kyle Orton, but eventually replaced him and led the Broncos to the playoffs. Denver beat the Steelers in the wild-card round before being routed by the Patriots.

A person familiar with Sanchez's situation said he would not be adversely affected by a Tebow trade. He said the Jets would likely use Tebow in short-yardage and goal-line situations, and he would not threaten Sanchez for the starting job.

If he is traded to the Jets, Tebow may not face a warm welcome from some teammates. Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie tweeted yesterday, "We don't need Tebow. We sell out every home game Let him go to JACKSONVILLE TAMPA or MIAMI. our wildcat offense can b ran by J.Kerley or Joe McKnight."

Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway, who led the effort to sign Manning to a five-year, $96-million contract, said Tuesday that a Tebow trade would be discussed. It appeared almost certain the Broncos were ready to part ways with Tebow, who was drafted in 2010 by former coach Josh McDaniels.

Manning said he was still getting used to being somewhere other than Indianapolis, where he played since being drafted No. 1 overall in 1998. He was released two weeks ago after missing last season because of neck problems that required four surgeries the last two years.

"It's certainly different," Manning said at the Broncos' training complex Tuesday. "This will take some time for me to get comfortable with. This is all new to me. You're talking about a guy who was with one team for 14 years."

Elway was delighted to get the quarterback who, like the former Broncos star passer, is headed for the Hall of Fame.

"The thing that got me is I asked him , 'Is there any doubt in your mind that you can't get back to the Peyton Manning we know of?' " Elway said.

"[Manning] said, 'There's no doubt in my mind.' When he said that and our doctors backed it up, that's when we knew we could land him as a Bronco."

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