Tebow Officially Traded to Jets, Not Packers

The Jets, even with Mark Sanchez entrenched as quarterback, officially have given up fourth- and sixth-round picks to get Tim Tebow. Meanwhile, the NFL drops a one-year suspension on Sean Payton for his role in the Saints' 'bounty' program.

Tim Tebow is coming to Broadway, not Titletown.

The New York Jets, shaken by reports of a fractured locker room, acquired the always positive and polarizing force that is quarterback Tim Tebow.

Tebow's tumultuous 72-hour rollercoaster appeared to come to a conclusion with his trade from Denver becoming official Wednesday night, according to CBSSports.com.

The deal hit a snag over language in the contract that called for any team acquiring Tebow to pay the Broncos back a little more than $5 million toward his advanced salaries for the next three years. After negotiating throughout Wednesday, the teams agreed to go through with the deal, with Denver adding a seventh-round pick in exchange for the Jets' fourth- and sixth-round picks in next month's draft, according to ESPN.

The former first-round pick became available when the Broncos signed Peyton Manning to a five-year, $96 million contract Tuesday. Although Broncos executive John Elway said no trade talks had taken place at that time, it took less than 24 hours for Denver to move Tebow despite a shallow group of interested teams.

With the Dolphins reportedly not interested in Tebow, who isn't a fit for coach Joe Philbin's West Coast offense, the Jets and Jaguars are the only teams believed to have shown serious interest, with the Packers also inquiring.

With the Jets, Tebow will back up embattled starter Mark Sanchez, who recently signed a five-year contract extension despite a disappointing 2011 season that included a rift with wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Tebow represents a change-of-pace player who can excel in the Wildcat offense, which new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano introduced to the NFL while coach of the Dolphins.

Jets coach Rex Ryan wants his club to return to being a power running team, but Shonn Greene is the team's only proven running back. Tebow rushed for 660 yards last season, including a 20-yard touchdown in the final minute to beat the Jets 17-14 in a November game at Denver.

"You know he's going to keep it in that situation. That's what he does. You keep the ball in your playmakers hand," Ryan said after that game. "We thought he was going to carry the ball and he didn't disappoint us. But he ran for a touchdown. The kid's a competitor and makes big plays with the game on the line."

A few weeks earlier, Tebow orchestrated another comeback to beat Sparano's Dolphins.

In announcing the Manning signing on Tuesday, Elway said Tebow's situation — and likely departure — was the most diffcult part of the situation.

"Tim Tebow is a great kid. If there was one guy I wanted to marry my daughter, it would be him," said Elway. "I told you Tim is a great football player. But I just think with the opportunity to have Peyton Manning's services, we had to take advantage of that.

"I have to take the personalities out of it. 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 time.

Payton suspended for year

The hammer came down from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday with stiff penalties for the "bounty" investigation announced March 2.

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for the 2012 season, effective April 1. General manager Mickey Loomis was suspended eight games and fined $500,000 and assistant head coach Joe Vitt has been suspended six games. The Saints were fined $500,000 and docked second-round picks in the 2012 and 2013 drafts.

Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was the Saints' coordinator the past three seasons, has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL, effective immediately. He will miss at least the 2012 season and his status will be reviewed at the conclusion of the year.

Discipline for individual players remains under review with the NFL Players Association and will be determined at a later date.

In a league release, Goodell said, "We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game. We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities. No one is above the game or the rules that govern it. Respect for the game and the people who participate in it will not be compromised.

"A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious. When there is targeting of players for injury and cash rewards over a three-year period, the involvement of the coaching staff, and three years of denials and willful disrespect of the rules, a strong and lasting message must be sent that such conduct is totally unacceptable and has no place in the game."

The program included bounty payments for "knock-outs" and "cart-offs," plays on which an opposing player was forced to leave the game. At times, the bounties even targeted specific players by name. Mentioned in the NFL report were quarterbacks Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton.

Williams admitted that he designed and implemented the program with the assistance of defensive players. He was told by Payton that his assignment was to make the defense "nasty." Williams described his role as overseeing record keeping, defining payout amounts, deciding on who received payouts, and distributing envelopes with cash to players who "earned" rewards.

Vitt acknowledged he was aware of the program in 2009 through 2011. He admitted that, when interviewed in 2010, he "fabricated the truth" to NFL investigators and denied that any pay-for-performance or bounty program existed at the Saints.

Vitt revealed one of his primary roles was to monitor the activity of Williams. This was based on the direction of Payton, who apparently had less than full confidence in Williams. Despite Vitt's knowledge of the bounty program, his understanding of the terms "knock-out" and "cart-off," his witnessing Williams handing out envelopes that he believed to contain cash, and his acknowledgement that the defensive meeting preceding the 2010 NFC Championship Game may have "got out of hand" with respect to Favre, Vitt claimed he never advised either Payton or Loomis of the "pay-for-performance/bounty" program.

According to the NFL announcement, "In early 2010, Loomis advised Payton that the league office was investigating allegations concerning a bounty program. Payton said that he met with his top two defensive assistants, Williams and Vitt, in advance of the interview with league investigators and told them, "Let's make sure our ducks are in a row."

Remarkably, Payton claimed that he never inquired of Williams and Vitt as to what happened in the interviews, never asked them if a "pay-for-performance" or bounty program was in fact in place, and never gave any instructions to discontinue such a program.

"Loomis was not present at meetings of the Saints defense at which bounties were discussed and was not aware of bounties being placed on specific players. Loomis became aware of the allegations regarding a bounty program no later than February 2010 when he was notified of the investigation into the allegations during a meeting with NFL Executive Vice President-Football Operations Ray Anderson. He was directed to ensure that any such program ceased immediately. By his own admission, Loomis did not do enough to determine if a pay-for-performance/bounty program existed or to end any such program that did exist.

Contacted by FOXSports.com's Jay Glazer, Payton said he is "not OK" with the one-year unpaid suspension.

An upper-level management official from the Saints told The Sports Xchange on Wednesday afternoon, just minutes after commissioner Roger Goodell brought down the hammer on the club, that Steve Spagnuolo is the "likely choice" as interim head coach. Spagnuolo was head coach of the Rams, fired at the end of last season, before joining the Saints.

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