NEW YORK — After a false start, the Jets acquired quarterback Tim Tebow from the Broncos on Wednesday.
The trade — New York also gets a seventh-round pick in April while sending Denver a fourth- and sixth-round pick — first was announced Wednesday afternoon. But it was held up by language in Tebow's contract.
During the almost eight hours in between, Jacksonville, near Tebow's hometown of Ponte Vedra, tried but failed to acquire him.
"Jacksonville will always be a special place for me," Tebow said. "But I'm so excited to be a Jet. I feel like this is a great opportunity for me to develop."
New York general manager Mike Tannenbaum said Tebow will be the backup.
"Mark Sanchez is, has been and will be our starting quarterback," he said. "We're adding Tim to be our backup and be used in other packages."
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, via Twitter, backed Sanchez, who recently signed a three-year, $40.5 million extension ($20.5 million guaranteed).
"Y bring Tebow in when we need to bring in more Weapons for @Mark—Sanchez," the ex-Florida State star tweeted. "Let's build the team around him"
Joe Namath, who led the Jets to their only Super Bowl title in 1969, agreed.
"I just think it's a publicity stunt," the Hall of Fame quarterback told ESPN Radio in New York. "And I'm a Tim Tebow fan! But I'm a bigger Jet fan than I am a Tim Tebow fan. I think Sanchez should be angry."
Analysts have questioned Tebow's passing ability, but he could add a dimension to the Jets offense. That includes the wildcat, which new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano ran while Dolphins coach.
Tebow already was popular in and out of the sports world because of his career, character and faith at Florida, during which he won a Heisman and two national titles. His popularity exploded last season.
At 1-4, the Broncos put him in for Kyle Orton. He went 7-4, including several comeback wins, and led them to the AFC West title and an overtime playoff victory over Pittsburgh.
Denver began shopping Tebow after signing Peyton Manning.
"I understand what the Broncos are going through," Tebow said. "There are not many times you have times to sign someone like Peyton Manning."
Denver executive John Elway praised Tebow.
"I know the last two weeks were not easy," he said. "He was put in a difficult situation, and I commend him for how he handled it with the same first-class manner he displayed in Denver."
As part of Tebow's contract, a $6.277 million advance was due 29 days after the start of the 2011 league year. That was paid in full in August. The trade stalled over the prorated money, about $5 million, of that clause. (The teams agreed to split it.)
The delay allowed Jacksonville to get back into the hunt.
"We have a duty to consider all avenues of improving the Jaguars … especially given the unique circumstances involving the player," owner Shad Khan said. "Our commitment to developing (2011 first-round pick) Blaine Gabbert was, and still is, central to our goal of returning the Jaguars to elite status in the NFL. We're looking ahead with zero regrets."
The Jaguars offered a fourth-round pick and to pay all of the $5 million, ESPN.com reported.
Sanchez was not available for comment. But Tuesday, he spoke highly of Tebow.
"I think Peyton is going to do great, and I think Tim is going to do great no matter what happens," Sanchez said on Fox Sports Radio in Los Angeles. "He can learn from one of the best quarterbacks to ever play or he moves on somewhere else and uses his skills at another ball club. He definitely has talent."