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Tim Tebow to sign with New England Patriots, play QB

It's safe to say Bill Belichickdoesn't hate Tim Tebow after all.

NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the New England Patriots will sign Tebow -- just in time for Tuesday's mandatory minicamp. NFL.com's Albert Breer reported Monday the Patriots will give Tebow a "low-money deal."

Way back in April, the Patriots were atop our list of potential Tebow landing spots because of Belichick's appreciation of versatile players and his love of all things University of Florida. But this news still comes as a surprise because of the timing.

Yahoo! Sports reported last month that there was "no chance" the Patriots would sign him. Belichick came out publicly and lambasted the accuracy of that report last week.

So why would Belichick sign Tebow?

Because he can. It really might not be more complicated than that. Former Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels remains on the Patriots' staff and obviously is a big believer in Tebow. There virtually is no risk to the signing because Tebow's contract is unlikely to have any guarantees. The Patriots love to kick the tires on veterans, and this is nothing more than that.

Signing Tebow doesn't mean he's a lock to make the Patriots' roster. Rapoport reported that Tebow is being brought in as a quarterback, and it's hard to imagine him passing Ryan Mallett on the depth chart. Third-string quarterback Mike Kafka was released Monday.

Tebow, like a lot of No. 3 quarterbacks in the NFL, must prove his worthiness in limited practice snaps. Unlike most No. 3 quarterbacks, however, he could help on special teams and the occasional trick play.

UPDATE: As expected, the Patriots made the news official Tuesday morning, announcing Tebow's signing.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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