Tim Tebow's training-camp debut was delayed by dollars -- a lot of dollars.
The rookie quarterback and the Denver Broncos agreed on a five-year, $33 million contract with $8.7 million guaranteed Thursday, a source told NFL Network insider Michael Lombardi. The Broncos announced the deal with the 25th overall draft pick, but they didn't disclose the terms.
The major sticking point in negotiations, NFL Network's Scott Hanson reported, was the total guaranteed money. Tebow's agent, Jimmy Sexton, made it clear that he wanted more guaranteed money than Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, the 24th overall pick, received in his deal last week, but there were conflicting numbers on that amount. In the end, a source told Hanson that Tebow's $8.7 million in guaranteed money is more than Bryant's reported $8.3 million.
According to Hanson, Tebow arrived at the Broncos' Dove Valley complex Thursday afternoon to sign his contract, take his physical, meet with coaches and possibly perform his conditioning test. He will hit the practice field Friday morning, having missed three practices before coming to terms.
During his brief absence, Tebow received a phone call from Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, "encouraging" the rookie to report, which was interpreted as an appeal to the quarterback's character -- pressuring him not to miss any practice. A source told Hanson that Tebow and McDaniels joked about that phone call when the rookie arrived at the team's facility to sign his deal.
Tebow's deal leaves top pick Demaryius Thomas, a wide receiver out of Georgia Tech, as the only member of Denver's 2010 draft class without a contract. Thomas was selected three spots before Tebow.
The Broncos are using four practices this week to give rookies, selected veterans and players who are coming off injuries a head-start on the playbook and practice plans -- and also get the jitters out before camp starts in earnest after the rest of the veterans report this weekend. Camp officially starts Sunday with the first full-squad, full-pads session.
"It's just an opportunity to feel better about playing faster," McDaniels said before Tebow's deal was announced. "And I think whether you're a rookie quarterback or an injured player, it makes sense to come in and try to start crawling before you walk and walking before you run -- because certainly none of them are going to hit the ground running because they're behind.
"Every day is a great opportunity."
The Broncos' starting quarterback remains Kyle Orton, who threw for 3,800 yards last season but faltered down the stretch when he was banged up and the team kept its offense conservative. The Broncos were unwilling to commit to a long-term relationship this offseason, so Orton signed a $2.621 million tender as a restricted free agent and didn't miss any of the team's offseason program.
But Orton did receive some better competition for his job as the Broncos jettisoned Chris Simms and Tom Brandstater and brought in Brady Quinn in a trade with the Cleveland Browns and Tebow via the draft.
Tebow might not be ready to make a big impact as a rookie because he faces a big adjustment as he morphs from combination college quarterback to prototypical pro passer. Still, many consider him the best college player ever, and he's creating the kind of buzz in the Rockies that John Elway did back in 1983.
Tebow's jersey already is a best-seller, he's pitching products for Jockey, EA Sports and Nike. And he's sure to be under a microscope from the second he steps on the practice field.
Tebow's teammates aren't concerned that he'll crater under all the attention.
"As successful as he's been, I'm sure he can handle it," said guard Russ Hochstein, a 10-year NFL veteran.
Rookie tight end Riar Geer said the one thing he has learned in the four months he has known him is that Tebow prospers under pressure.
"He definitely thrives on it. He's a competitor," Geer said. "Watching him out here in all the workouts, he's always coming in first place."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.