FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A Heisman Trophy, a riveting playoff game, an international following.
Tim Tebow won all that in his football career.
On Saturday, he lost his third NFL job in 18 months. It might be hard to find another.
The quarterback with two big problems — throwing the ball and reading defenses — was cut by the New England Patriots less than 12 weeks after they signed him and just five days before the season.
But, as Tebow sees it, this long journey is not over.
“I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback,” he tweeted.
Coach Bill Belichick gave the player whose profile was higher than his production what may have been his last chance when he signed him June 11, the day the Patriots’ three-day minicamp began. And Tebow is grateful.
He thanked Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and owner Robert Kraft, who said last Tuesday he was “rooting” for Tebow but would let Belichick make the decision.
In his tweet, Tebow thanked the “entire Patriots organization for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a classy organization.”
The Patriots cut 12 other players and put safety Adrian Wilson on injured reserve. That left them with 51 players, two below the regular-season limit they had to reach by 6 p.m. EDT.
Belichick didn’t comment on Tebow’s release.
If anyone could turn Tebow into a good NFL quarterback, it seemed it would be Belichick. And McDaniels was a booster of Tebow, drafting him in the first round in 2010 as Denver’s head coach. There even was speculation that Belichick might find other positions for the mobile Tebow to play, but he worked out only with quarterbacks.
And his passes still bounced at receivers’ feet and flew over their heads.
Now, barely two weeks after his 26th birthday, Tebow’s NFL career may be over.
“I can’t predict that,” said John Fox, who took over as Denver’s coach in 2011 and traded him after the season. “I wish nothing but the best for him, as I’ve said many times. He did a lot of good things for us, was great to this organization and to this coaching staff, myself included.”
The Patriots have carried just two quarterbacks in three of the past four seasons. So with Ryan Mallett entrenched as the backup to Tom Brady, Tebow’s challenge was a difficult one, even before the preseason started. Then he posted a quarterback rating of just 47.2 with two touchdown passes, two interceptions and seven sacks in three exhibition games.
Tebow’s last play with the Patriots, and perhaps in the NFL, was a 9-yard touchdown to rookie free agent Quentin Sims with six seconds left in a 28-20 win over the New York Giants on Thursday night.
With two scoring passes, it was the best of Tebow’s three games during a shaky preseason in which he completed 11 of 30 passes for 145 yards and ran 16 times for 91 yards.
“It’s not just one game (that matters),” Belichick said Friday about the player evaluation process, “although every game is important. But the body of work, the camp, the rate of improvement, the ability to do the things that players are going to be asked to do at their respective positions (also matter).”
After his last game, Tebow said he wasn’t sure it would be enough to keep him on the team.
But he didn’t plan to worry.
He would “go to sleep when I get home, wake up, come work out, watch the film,” Tebow said. “See what I did good, see what I did bad, try to learn from it and get better.”
NOTES: The Patriots cut punter Zoltan Mesko after three solid seasons in favor of rookie Ryan Allen. They released three other veterans — defensive linemen Jermaine Cunningham and Justin Francis and linebacker Jeff Tarpinian. Also cut were defensive lineman Marcus Forston, who spent last season on the practice squad, and seven rookie free agents — Sims, linebacker Ja’Gared Davis, defensive backs Kanorris Davis, Justin Green, and Stephon Morris, offensive lineman Chris McDonald and running back George Winn.