If you were under the impression that the New York Jets might ditch the Tim Tebow Experiment after one year, given the lack of success the quarterback has enjoyed so far in his new offense, think again.
Jets owner Woody Johnson, who seems to favor himself a football guy in the Jerry Jones mold these days, said in a Wednesday morning interview with CNBC that Tebow should definitely own instead of leasing.
"Are we going to keep Tebow? Absolutely," Johnson said. "He'll be with us for three years, and he'll be a real asset in terms of helping us win games."
Tebow's current contract, which was traded with him from the Denver Broncos in March, runs through the 2014 season. He signed a five-year, $9.75 million contract in July of 2010, a few months after the Broncos selected him in the first round, and he's set to make a little over $2.5 million in base salary and roster bonus this season. He could make as much next season, and there's a "likely to be earned" escalator in his contract that Johnson seems determined to exercise.
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Johnson was asked if there's been any wavering on his part, or on the part of head coach Rex Ryan, about Tebow starting over Mark Sanchez at some point.
"No. No. There will never be," Johnson said. But with that said, Johnson seemed to hedge his bets on Sanchez.
"Never is a long, long time period, but I see the same things in Mark Sanchez that I saw when I first met him [in 2009]. He's still a young quarterback. This is probably the most difficult position athletically and mentally that there is in all of sports. Everybody's trying to deceive you and the other guys trying to get at you, and it's a hurried environment.
"A quarterback's job ultimately is to win games and Mark Sanchez has proven he can. Like he pulled out a game a few weeks ago at the last couple of minutes when we played Miami. That was an ugly game in many respects, but we pulled it out."
Sure, but Sanchez also fell short of "winning" Monday night's game against the Houston Texans, though he made several deep completions, in part because offensive coordinator Tony Sparano insisted on upsetting the offense's rhythm by subbing Tebow in for Sanchez, even when Sanchez had the hot hand.
Johnson, who insists that the 2-3 Jets have always been competitive even when they've lost, seemed unconcerned.
"I think we were very competitive," Johnson said of the game. "We were in there all the way to the end. We made a few little mistakes and that cost us the game."
Johnson also believed that the Jets ran amiss in their game plan against Houston by failing to put a "spy" on Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who took over the game from start to finish. In that "spies" are generally defensive players set to follow quick and hyper-mobile quarterbacks, we're not sure what Johnson meant with that one.
It's also unclear how the Jets plan to resolve the Sanchez-Tebow mess over time. Sanchez signed a five-year, $58.25 million contract extension in March which gives him over $20 million guaranteed, including his 2012 and 2013 base salaries. If Johnson wants Sanchez around in 2014 to go with Tebow, he'll have to shell out $9 million in base salary, plus a $2 million roster bonus.
That's a lot of scratch to put into a two-quarterback rotation that still isn't as effective -- combined -- as any of the elite single quarterbacks around the NFL.
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