The New York Jets announced this morning that they have waived QB Tim Tebow. The Jets acquired Tebow in a much publicized trade last season in which they gave a 4th round pick to the Denver Broncos as well as an agreement to pay the Broncos $2,531,875 in cash as repayment for a salary advance the Broncos had paid Tebow in 2011. The Jets still owe the Broncos $1,531,875 of that total which will count as dead money on the teams salary cap unless Tebow is claimed by another team which is highly unlikely. The move brings the Jets dead money for the season to about $21.6 million, which, by my estimates, is 3rd highest in the NFL behind the Raiders and Jaguars.
This will mark the second player in the last week that the Jets have removed from the roster that will continue to cost the team actual cash. CB Darrelle Revis is still owed $1 million by the Jets due to a roster bonus that was earned in early March. The Jets could have avoided that payment had they been able to come to a trade agreement sooner with the Buccaneers. Had the Jets waived Tebow late last season when the Jets made the decision to play Greg McElroy over Tebow they may have been able to avoid the cash payment owed to Denver since the Jaguars likely would have claimed the QB, though without knowing the specifics of the salary advance repayment I can only guess that is the case.
Some will question the timing of the move because it was well known that Tebow would not be in the Jets plans this season and, that being the case, releasing him before free agency began gives the player the most chance to find a home in the NFL. But this is just the way things work in the NFL. I am sure the Jets spent the better part of the weekend desperately trying to find a team to surrender a draft pick for Tebow. When they found no takers the only option left is the release of the player. Tebow is one of many that will be released over the next week due to draft happenings. Back in 2010 the Jets released G Alan Faneca right after the draft when they drafted Vlad Ducasse, who the Jets felt would take over Faneca’s job.
Though some will say that this is happening because the Jets drafted QB Geno Smith in the 2nd round, most likely it was a decision made long before the draft. As a young QB Smith is logically replacing either Matt Simms or McElroy on the roster now, not Tebow, and then Mark Sanchez in the future. . Maybe it makes for a convenient story but my guess is Tim was going to be released today no matter who was drafted. Even in the weeks leading up to this GM John Idzik was always hesitant to speak about Tebow, much in the same way he spoke about Revis. Today is the first day the Jets can begin Phase II of their offseason workout program in which coaches are allowed to begin to instruct players on a practice field, which is something that saw no need to do with Tebow.
At the least this will get the story of Sanchez’ future off the front pages for a day or two. Sanchez has a hefty guarantee in his contract and could be replaced by Smith as early as the first game of the year. While many are of the opinion that Sanchez’ cash guarantee protects him remember that Faneca, as mentioned above, was paid $5.5 million to walk away from the Jets after they drafted Ducasse. Faneca was owed $5.25 million in fully guaranteed base salary plus a $250,000 workout bonus. Faneca was an example of a freak situation as his salary vested right after the Super Bowl, but because of the special rules of the uncapped year the Jets were unable to release him before the contract became guaranteed. The Jets did not have the 2009 cap space to execute the move. So all things considered the money for Sanchez is not going to be an obstacle, but most likely they will hope a team will trade for him over the coming months with the Jets eating a good portion of the salary.
At the end of the day the Jets ended up paying $4,104,375 for Tebows services in 2012 for about 150 yards of total offensive production. That is one of the many reasons that GM Mike Tannenbaum ended up losing his job last season and the Jets are left with the task of cleaning up a roster filled with untalented and overpaid players. The release of Tebow clears up $1.055 million in cap room, which will lead to an effective gain of $575,000 in cap space once he is replaced on the roster by the current 52nd player, who makes $480,000.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.