Thursday, March 22, 2012


I must be missing something here.

If I'm not, the Denver Broncos' trade of Tim Tebow to the New York Jets doesn't make much sense.

Let's review. The Broncos earlier this week signed Peyton Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Practically any team in the league would like to have him around. OK, maybe not New England, Green Bay and a couple of others, but the rest of the league would be thrilled to get a #18 out for him.

But ... Manning turns 36 on Saturday. He also missed all of 2011 with a neck injury. I suppose a concussion might be equally scary as these things go, but neck problems for someone who has been playing for years certainly puts out the caution flag. The Broncos apparently have put some salary guarantees in their contract with Manning so that the risk is more shared, which is a fine idea.

Still, the situation screams out "have a backup quarterback ready." Someone is going to have to explain why Tebow couldn't be that player.

He's obviously a work in progress as a passer. But, he did lead the Broncos to the playoffs last season. If Manning goes down in Week One, it wouldn't be a disaster with Tebow around. I can't say there's a better fit out there in the free agent market; Vince Young hasn't done much in a while.

Then there's the "return on investment" part of the argument. Tebow was a first-round draft choice. The Broncos knew he was a project when they drafted him. Today they traded him for a fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick, giving up a seventh as well. Would you trade a first and a seventh for a fourth and a sixth? Probably not, unless you used that first-rounder on someone like Aaron Maybin. (Dear Bills Fans: Sorry I brought that up.)

What's more, Tebow isn't likely to put out at the thought of being a backup. Because that's what he'll probably be doing in New York with the Jets. Where is Tebow more likely to play, all things considered -- Denver or New York? The Jets have Mark Sanchez, who is no Peyton Manning. He's also 25 and has a new rich contract extension. Quarterbacks can get hurt anytime, but I like Sanchez's chances of staying healthy better than Manning's.

Tebow was asked about the Manning signing when it was in the works, and he replied that he's paid a lot of money to play a game. How could he complain about his life? That doesn't sound like a potential cancer on the roster. Tebow might learn a thing or three from Manning too, and perhaps get to the point where a trade elsewhere would work better for all concerned down the road.

It sure sounds like John Elway was a little spooked about having both Manning and Tebow on the roster. Maybe it was because of the fan pressure in the past two years to play Tebow in the first place, or maybe it was because the two aren't exactly interchangeable when it comes to offensive schemes. Still, the Broncos did OK with switching to Tebow in midseason last year.

When I was looking around the Internet for background information once I had come up with my original thoughts, I found this old blog by Denver columnist Terry Frei. It sounds like I have company here, which is good to know.

Maybe Manning will stay healthy, and the Broncos will be off to the Super Bowl. But the second step of the transformation of the Broncos' quarterback position strikes me as unnecessary.

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