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Tim Tebow went to Rex Ryan last Friday and told him that whatever the coach thought the quarterback had conveyed to him three days earlier, he nevertheless still was ready to do whatever was asked against the Chargers.
Ryan, who preferred to use Jeremy Kerley on Wildcat plays for reasons including that Kerley is going to be a Jet next year and Tebow is not, believes No. 15 ultimately had his heart in the right place, which really is all the matters anymore as this sad chapter in too many lives comes to an end.
It is painful enough for player and organization that the door has all but officially closed on Tebow's virtually fruitless time here. It shouldn't slam on his reputation, too. Whether or not Tebow deserved more snaps this season, he deserves to leave New York with his integrity unquestioned.
"People talking about how you play football or how much, that really doesn't bother me," he said Wednesday. "What's been disappointing and frustrating these last few days are people saying, 'You quit on your team' or 'You are not a good team man.'
"I went in Tuesday and had a man-to-man conversation with Coach Ryan. The conversation was good and I simply asked for an opportunity to play quarterback. I did tell him I was frustrated with the Wildcat, how little success we were having, some of the stuff we were doing. I let him know that, same way I did Wednesday to you [reporters].
"Friday I reiterated I would do anything for this team and he appreciated that. I never said I don't want to do anything or I won't do anything. That wasn't the talk at all. He knows and the whole team knows I'll do anything to help this team.
"He wanted to give Kerley an opportunity. We haven't had success. He wanted to try something a little bit different."
It's been a real page-turner, this open book into the foibles of well-meaning persons like Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Tebow, Tony Sparano and Mike Tannenbaum. We haven't quite read the last page — Tebow took another slap in the face today when, at the news of Greg McElroy's concussion, Ryan gave the starting job for Sunday's finale back to Sanchez. But please, this saga is overdue to go back to the library, a Jacksonville branch probably being the best place. Whoever's idea was Tebow in New York, it turned out to be a poor one for him and the Jets. And while he assuredly is anything but bad news, Tebow has become yesterday's news.
So with hopefully a lesson learned, we really all should move on, in the Jets' case meaning not to Michael Vick, who would become a serial magnet for criticism that, at this point, they need about as much as they have needed Aaron Berry.
Not that the Jets, with the worst offense in the NFL, couldn't use a guy who could make a splash, but here is some cold water in the face of a fast rebuild: Reality quickly puts a "cap" on what the Jets can do to help themselves for 2013.
Somewhere out there are overachievers who can aid a revival. The GM, whether or not it still is Mike Tannenbaum, had better know where to find them.
There is not going to be much money to spend by a team that currently projects significantly over the cap and not just because Sanchez could count for at least $8.5 million if he is traded, double that if he is cut.
Big commitments to Santonio Holmes, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, David Harris and Darrelle Revis — most of it well spent on a team of playoff caliber, no longer so if the Jets pretty much are starting over — will have the GM turning over rocks looking for cap-friendly talent.
That applies not just on offense, where a stopgap quarterback more reliable than Sanchez is a must, but on the far better side of their line of scrimmage, the defense.
Both safeties, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, have expiring contracts. Harris is the only starting linebacker who figures to be back, the possible exception being Bart Scott in a reduced role at a reduced salary. Mike DeVito, another unrestricted free agent, probably has performed his way into more money elsewhere than the Jets are going to be able to afford.
Mo Wilkerson has blossomed so promisingly and the defense has played so much better over the second half of the season that the reinsertion of a healthy Revis for next season is a warming thought for a cold Week 17 in Buffalo. But Pro Bowl selection Landry is going to be a tough signing and might not even be the smartest one, considering how much help is needed in so many places.
The list of absolute keepers on the offense doesn't extend much beyond Ferguson and Mangold. Shonn Greene's deal is up, which makes Bilal Powell likely the starting tailback next year. The Jets could do worse but probably are not going to be able to do much better. In the unlikely event Dustin Keller comes back, it would only be on the cheap, with a contract mirroring that of the safest projections to return after Mangold and Ferguson: Kerley, Austin Howard and Joe McKnight, all still on their entry-level contracts.
Braylon Edwards, who didn't look bad against San Diego, appears a viable 2013 option. He likes it here and his open-market value is down, which fits the profile of a Jet going forward. There is much work to be done and most of it will have to be done cheaply.