Tebow Becomes Latest Patriots Project
Just when we thought we had seen the last of him, Tim Tebow is back in the news. He was signed by the New England Patriots on Monday and the team plans to have him participate in mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.
Tebow was last seen on the New York Jets’ sidelines carrying a clipboard and taking meticulous notes. The Jets acquired him from the Denver Broncos last offseason and every single thing he did was documented by a certain news outlet in Bristol, Conn. The season was a disaster for Tebow, who barely saw any playing time despite starting quarterback Mark Sanchez playing poorly for most of the season. New York cut Tebow in April after drafting former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in the second round of the NFL Draft.
A lot of the details surrounding Tebow’s contract aren’t known, which is par for the course for New England, but the one detail that came out is that Tebow was brought on to play quarterback. Whether he gets used at other positions remains to be seen.
In recent years, the Patriots have taken on several reclamation projects with varying results. In 2004, the Pats traded a second-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for running back Corey Dillon. At the time, he was the franchise leader in rush yards with 8,016 yards but was frustrated at his lack of playing time due to the emergence of rookie Rudi Johnson. In Dillon’s first year in Foxboro, he set franchise records and career highs with 1,635 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns en route to helping the team win its third Super Bowl in four years. His production tailed off the following two years due to injury and he retired in 2007.
Verdict: Brief success, but ultimately a disappointment
2007 saw two receivers come to New England who had huge impacts on the team. After two uneventful seasons with the Oakland Raiders, Randy Moss was acquire via a draft-day trade for a fourth round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Moss became a model citizen and impacted immediately on the field. His first action with the Pats saw him catch nine passes for 181 years and a touchdown against the Jets in what would be a record breaking season for both he and quarterback Tom Brady. Moss broke the record for receiving touchdowns in one year with 23, and Brady beat Peyton Manning‘s record of passing touchdowns in one year by throwing 50. In 2010, Moss was unhappy at the lack of a contract extension with the Patriots and made his displeasure about it public. The Patriots would eventually trade him to the Minnesota Vikings where he was then waived less than four weeks later.
Verdict: Great player, but too insane for positive long-term impact
That same 2007 draft saw the Patriots pick up another impact receiver via trade: Wes Welker. The Patriots sent a second-round and a seventh-round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for Welker. What Welker accomplished in his time as a Patriot is nothing short of amazing. Since 2007, he caught more passes than any other player in the NFL. He reached 500 receptions in only 70 games, which is an NFL record. He holds the franchise record for consecutive games with a reception and has caught a pass in every game he played as a Patriot. Welker is currently the Patriots franchise leader in receptions, needing only 79 games to do so. But the Patriots did not give Welker the long-term, big contract he wanted, so in March, Welker signed a two-year $12 million contract with the Denver Broncos.
In the 2011 offseason, the Patriots sent a fifth round draft pick in the 2013 NFL draft to the Washington Redskins for defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth was two years into a monster seven-year, $100 million deal that the Redskins had signed him to, but he quickly wore out his welcome in New England and proved he wasn’t worth the money. Haynesworth showed up to training camp overweight and disinterested with the defensive scheme the team was running. He publicly criticized his defensive coordinator after an embarrassing loss on Monday Night Football and was suspended in December 2010 for “conduct detrimental to the team”. The following season he posted a career low 13 tackles and 2.5 sacks in eight games. He didn’t last long in New England either. The Patriots cut him in November of 2011 after an alleged sideline altercation with an assistant coach. He finished out that season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was released at the end of that season.
Verdict: Complete failure
In July of 2011, the Patriots landed what they thought was a big time receiver in Chad Ochocinco (now known as Chad Johnson). New England surrendered a fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft and a sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft. Ochocinco was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and a three time All-Pro selection as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. That talent never translated as Ochocinco had his least productive season in New England, posting 15 catches for 276 yards and a single touchdown. He was released in June of 2012.
Verdict: Entertaining off the field, worthless on the field
The Patriots aren’t taking a huge risk in signing Tebow. It’s not like the fans will be clamoring for him to start at quarterback the way they did in New York. Coaches Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels are smart enough to find effective ways to use Tebow. It’s up to the quarterback now to determine whether he will be a success or a failure in New England.