By Manish Mehta
The brief and bizarre Tim Tebow era in New York is finally over. The Jets officially waived the lightning-rod quarterback on Monday after months of speculation about his future on a team that marginalized him last season. General manager John Idzik and Rex Ryan informed Tebow Monday morning at the Jets facility that they were pulling the plug. “We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow,” Ryan said in a statement. “Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped. Tim is an extremely hard worker, evident by the shape he came back in this offseason. We wish him the best moving forward.” A team official told the Daily News over the weekend that Tebow was “probably gone” soon.And he was. If Tebow isn’t claimed off waivers, the Jets will owe him $1.5 million, per terms of the trade with the Broncos last year. The Jets cleared about $1 million in salary cap space by parting ways with Tebow. The Jets did Tebow no favors by keeping him for as long as they did this offseason. He would have likely had a better opportunity to find a new team if he were released during free agency or before the draft. The team’s decision to draft Geno Smith in the second round last Friday gave them six quarterbacks on the roster. Now, they’re down to Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Greg McElroy, Matt Simms and Smith. Tebow was never a part of the Jets’ plans for 2013. Idzik tried trading him for months, but there were no takers. The team’s last-ditch effort to move him during the draft last week was fruitless, paving the way for his departure. Rex Ryan & Co. had big plans last summer after the Jets traded away a fourth-round pick for Tebow, but his presence proved to be a distraction that stunted Sanchez’s growth. Ryan ratcheted up the intrigue by claiming that Tebow’s ability to be a Wildcat threat would provide a valuable dimension to the offense. He claimed that Tebow could be used as many as 20 plays a game, but none of the rhetoric came to fruition. A year after Tebow captivated with the NFL with a magical run to the playoffs with the Broncos, he was a nonfactor with the Jets. The Jets tried out Tebow as a quarterback, H-back and personal punt protector, but he never became anything more than a footnote on a bad team. When Ryan ultimately benched the struggling Sanchez late in the season, the head coach bypassed Tebow to play third-stringer Greg McElroy. After McElroy suffered a concussion after his first career start, Ryan went back to Sanchez for the season finale rather than give Tebow a chance to start. Tebow completed only six of eight passes and had 32 carries for 102 yards and no touchdowns in 77 snaps last season. Tebow’s future in the NFL remains unclear. The Jaguars, who were interested in dealing for Tebow last year, aren’t expected to be interested.”I can’t imagine a scenario where Tebow would be a Jacksonville Jaguar,” Jags GM David Caldwell said in January… even if he’s released.” His NFL options are limited. Would new Chargers head coach Mike McCoy, who was the Broncos’ offensive coordinator in Denver during Tebow’s magical 2011 ride, be interested? How about the Patriots? The Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League made it clear last month that they’d like to have him.”Tim would certainly want to first exhaust his opportunities in the NFL, but we’d love to have him,” Brett Bouchy told the Orlando Sentinel at the time. “I think he would definitely improve as a quarterback in our league… Everything in the Arena League is just so much faster and quicker and predicated on accuracy. Whenever Tim is willing, we have a contract waiting for him to sign.”That may one of the few options that Tebow has left.