FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2011 file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow prays in the end zone before the start of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, in Denver. Peyton Manning is negotiating to join the Broncos, ESPN reported Monday, March 19, 2012. Citing anonymous sources, ESPN said that the four-time MVP has instructed agent Tom Condon to negotiate the details of a deal with Denver. The addition of Manning could well lead to Denver trading Tebow, even though the popular QB energized the Broncos in leading them to the playoffs last season despite some uneven play. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
Updated: March 21, 2012 2:01PM
DENVER — On the day the Denver Broncos celebrated the arrival of Peyton Manning, all the action photos of Tim Tebow that once graced the hallways at the team facility were gone.
How’s that for a subtle hint?
Though executive John Elway and coach John Fox wouldn’t exactly come out and say it, the Tebow era in Denver looks to be all but over.
At a news conference Tuesday to introduce Manning, Elway said he’s exploring all his options for Tebow, the incredibly popular and polarizing quarterback who led the Broncos back to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2005.
“Tim Tebow is a great kid. If I want someone to marry my daughter, it would be him,” Elway said. “But I think with the opportunity to have Peyton Manning’s services, we had to take advantage of that. Now that it’s happened, we have to go back and address Tim and see what the best situation is for the Denver Broncos, as well as him.”
A message was left by The Associated Press for Tebow and his agent, Jimmy Sexton.
Although disappointed at Manning’s decision to come to Denver, Tebow took the news in stride during a phone conversation with Elway.
“He’s said, ‘Well, we’re talking about Peyton Manning. I understand exactly what you’re doing,’” Elway explained. “He was very, very positive.”
The next step in the process may be finding a trade partner, but the Broncos are in no hurry to do so. As for an outright release, well, the Broncos said no way.
“He’s a first-round pick,” Broncos general manager Brian Xanders said. “He’s just won the division, we were 1-4 at the time, he’s got a guaranteed contract. I can’t see that.”
Tebow’s base salaries for the next few seasons are very cap friendly: $1.942 million in 2012, $2.266 million in 2013 and $2.590 million in 2014.
Teams such as San Francisco, Green Bay and Jacksonville could be in the market for Tebow, at least as a backup.
However, his next destination likely will not be Miami.
A person familiar with the situation said Tebow would not fit the West Coast offense the Dolphins plan to install this season under first-year coach Joe Philbin. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because trades and other personnel moves are confidential until completed.
The Dolphins have been mentioned as a possible Tebow landing place since he starred at the University of Florida. Miami has incumbent quarterback Matt Moore on its roster along with recently signed David Garrard, who is expected to compete for the starting position.
For as well as this has gone for Denver, Elway hopes this to turns out well for Tebow, too.
“It would be our goal to get him in the best situation possible for him to have success also,” Elway said.
Although the unorthodox QB energized the Broncos last season and guided them back to the postseason, Tebow’s long, looping throwing motion led to some accuracy issues. And with his eagerness to run, he’s hardly the prototypical pocket passer.
Still, Tebow has a flock of fans for reasons that have to do as much with his faith as his football skills. A devout Christian, he’s been a role model since his days at Florida, when he led the Gators to two national titles and captured the Heisman Trophy.
His soaring popularity made this decision even more difficult for Elway.
“I’ve got to make the best decisions I can for the Denver Broncos. Without a doubt in my mind, this is the best decision for the Denver Broncos at this point and time,” Elway said.
Manning eventually plans to reach out to Tebow, once he settles in and catches his breath after his whirlwind free agency tour.
“I know what kind of player Tim Tebow is, what kind of person he is,” Manning said. “What an awesome year he had this year. If Tim Tebow is here next year, I’m going to be the best teammate I can be to him. He and I are going to help this team win games.
“If other opportunities present themselves to him, I’m going to wish him the best. He’s going to be a great player wherever he is.”