The Jets released Tim Tebow six weeks ago, and the longer he went unsigned, the dimmer his NFL prospects seemed. The Arena League beckoned. So did Canada if he wanted to go, which he did not. Only the NFL would suffice.
Now Tebow is poised to return.
The former University of Florida star will join the Patriots minicamp today and sign a contract, pending a medical exam, the Associated Press and espn.com reported Monday.
Asked if Tebow had signed, Patriots spokesman Stacey James said only, "I do not anticipate any additional transactions to announce tonight."
The Patriots, whom the Bucs face in Foxborough on Sept. 22, released quarterback Mike Kafka, who was third on the depth chart behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett, on Monday, suggesting coach Bill Belichick is willing to give Tebow a try at quarterback.
The move will reunite Tebow with New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was the Broncos coach when Denver traded into the first round to draft the Heisman Trophy winner in 2010.
Ted Sundquist, Broncos general manager from 2001-07, said he sees the logic in the move.
"If you can find a club that's mature enough to handle it as an organization, then you're going to find the right spot for him," Sundquist said. "What I mean by that is all the media mania and that sort of thing. The club says, 'Look, this is the reason we're bringing him on. We feel he can bring X, Y, Z and A, B, C to the table.' Explain it to Tim, explain it to the media, explain it to your fan base and explain it to your organization."
One of the NFL's most polarizing players, Tebow won two national titles for the Gators.
As a rookie, Tebow threw just 82 passes over nine games (three starts). But in 2011, he started 11 games, throwing for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions, and led the Broncos to an overtime win in the wild-card game against the Steelers. (Denver lost 45-10 to New England the following week.)
Despite the Broncos' playoff run, he was traded to Jets the following offseason when Denver signed Peyton Manning. Tebow then spent a lost season with the Jets, playing sparingly behind struggling starter Mark Sanchez.
Tebow threw just eight passes, completing six, ran 32 times for 102 yards and was used mostly to protect the punter.
"Unfortunately," Jets coach Rex Ryan said in a statement when Tebow was released, "things did not work out the way we all had hoped."
New England hosts the Jets on Sept. 12 and visits MetLife Stadium on Oct. 20.
Around the league
Pacman arrested: Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones was arrested on a charge of assault in Cincinnati. According to a police report, he slapped a woman outside of a bar on Wednesday. An arraignment has not been scheduled.
Bears: Fullback Evan Rodriguez, who appeared in 12 games last season, was released two weeks after his second arrest in three months. Rodriguez was ticketed May 31 for driving under the influence, speeding and improper lane usage. In March, he was charged with disorderly intoxication and resisting an officer. Those charges were later dropped.
Bills: Tarvaris Jackson, the third-string quarterback last season, was released. That leaves ex-Seminole EJ Manuel competing with six-year veteran Kevin Kolb for the starting job.
. fast facts
Why the Patriots?
. Coach Bill Belichick values versatility — receivers Troy Brown, Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater have played defensive back when injuries hit that position — and the 6-foot-3, 236-pound Tebow might help at tight end with Rob Gronkowski injured.
. Belichick has gambled on discards. Receivers Wes Welker and Randy Moss and running back Danny Woodhead were success stories, but receiver Chad Johnson and defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth were failures.
. Josh McDaniels, who as Broncos coach drafted Tebow, is now the Patriots' offensive coordinator.
. Belichick would no doubt enjoy sticking it to the Jets, Tebow's previous team, by revitalizing his career.
. Belichick keeps a tight rein on players and can minimize the Tebow media circus.