A day after his release from the Jets, Tim Tebow cleared waivers and officially became a free agent.
Though a league source confirmed to Newsday in December that the team planned to trade or release the backup quarterback after the 2012 season, Tebow ran out of time once the Jets selected Geno Smith in last week's draft.
"We had six quarterbacks," general manager John Idzik said during a day-long media tour Tuesday. "Something had to give."
Because no other club put in a claim for Tebow, the Jets must pay back the Broncos the $1.53-million salary advance that was given to Tebow in 2011. The Jets, who traded fourth- and sixth-round picks to Denver in exchange for Tebow and a seventh-rounder in March 2012, used the backup QB on just 73 offensive snaps last season. Tebow threw eight passes (six completions for 39 yards), rushed 32 times for 102 yards and scored no touchdowns.
"When you look at it with the advantage of hindsight, obviously it wasn't a good situation for Tim," Rex Ryan said during a separate radio interview. " . . . I looked at it like he would have had success and we were going to use him in a multiple of ways. Unfortunately that didn't happen. We really didn't take advantage, in my opinion, of his skill set. That's nobody's fault -- ultimately it's my fault."
Five quarterbacks remain on the roster, and all five are expected to compete this offseason, Idzik maintained in several radio interviews. Asked if he thought Mark Sanchez can be "rehabilitated," the GM replied: "I do. I do. And I think it's a fresh start, of sorts, for him too. There's a lot of newness in the building, so I think that'll be good for Mark," Idzik said, referring to new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and quarterbacks coach David Lee.
Ryan also expressed confidence in Sanchez, saying he thinks "we'll see the best Mark Sanchez we've seen." But neither he nor Idzik would commit to Sanchez being on the roster after June 1 or being the starter in 2013. "There is no guarantee that Mark will be our starter . . . That job's going to have to be earned," Ryan said.
It remains to be seen whether Smith, the 39th overall selection in the draft, will ultimately win the starting gig. But in the meantime, he's got to find new representation.
Just four days after being drafted, Smith left his agents at Select Sports Group. The former West Virginia QB said in a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview that his decision was not based on his disappointing second-round selection.
"I don't want to shed too much light on it," said Smith, who was so sure he'd be a Top 10 pick that he only brought one suit to New York. "The thing that I can tell you is that it's not because of the whole draft experience. It's not because of one particular incident. There's a number of things. And that story, that battle will be fought on a different day. As of right now, I don't feel too comfortable talking about all the details of it.
"I'm not bitter about where I was drafted," added Smith, who now must wait five days to hire a new agent, "because I'm on a great team."