Tim Tebow is back on the field with an NFL team — the New England Patriots.
The Patriots announced the signing of the former Jets quarterback on Tuesday, six weeks after he was cut by New York and just in time for the start of the three-day Patriots minicamp that runs through Thursday.
Tebow practiced with veteran New England starter Tom Brady and backup Ryan Mallett. The newest Patriot wore No. 5, not his familiar 15 — which belongs to Mallett — on his shorts and helmet. The QBs wore red jerseys without numbers.
“First and foremost, I just want to thank the Patriots for giving me an opportunity. I’m very thankful,” Tebow said on the field after practice. “It’s such an honor to be a Patriot and play for Coach [Bill] Belichick and for Coach [Josh] McDaniels, learn under Tom [Brady], and be a part of this very successful franchise.”
Tebow signed for two years with no guaranteed money. He will make the veteran’s minimum salary, $630,000 in 2013, with incentives.
“Anything we do, we feel is in the best interests of the team,” Belichick said at a standing-room-only news conference before practice. “We’ll see how it goes.”
With 15 video cameras and more than 40 media members in the audience, Belichick said, “We’ve been in front of bigger crowds before.”
Tebow, 25, is being reunited with McDaniels, the Patriots offensive coordinator who was Denver’s head coach when the Broncos traded into the first round to take him with the 25th draft pick in 2010. McDaniels stood next to Tebow on the practice field.
“I’m looking forward to working hard every single day, and getting a lot better, and learning under some great people,” Tebow said during his 40-second visit with reporters. “So, that’s all I got. But thank you so much and God bless. I’m sure we’ll be talking more soon.”
There is no guarantee that Tebow will still be with the Patriots when training camp begins next month, but if the Patriots keep him, he would have time to develop as a quarterback since Brady holds that job. Tebow even could be tried at tight end, where the status of Rob Gronkowski is uncertain after he had his fourth operation on his broken left forearm on May 20 and faces back surgery this month.
Asked if Tebow would be used at quarterback, Belichick, in his usual low-key manner, said, “we’re going to do what we think is best for our football team. We’ll see.”
He also said during the news conference lasting about nine minutes that Tebow is “a talented guy. He’s smart. He works hard.”
Tebow’s NFL career appeared to be over when the Jets released him on April 29 and no team signed him.