Tim Tebow wants to take his talents back to Florida, according to a close friend of the unconventional quarterback.
Tebow — likely to be jettisoned by the Broncos following the signing of four-time MVP Peyton Manning — apparently prefers his next NFL destination to be the Sunshine State, where he came to fame playing for the University of Florida.
Monica Culpepper, the wife of former NFL and Florida Gators player Brad Culpepper, told 970 WFLA radio in Tampa Tuesday that Tebow was hoping to head back to familiar surroundings.
"Brad and I just had dinner with Tim last week and I don’t think this comes as a shock or surprise to him that Manning was actually going to go there," Culpepper said.
"And in all honesty, Tim said, ‘I miss home. I miss the South. And hopefully I’ll land somewhere in Florida.’"
The Broncos have been quietly shopping their one-time starter since the NFL Scouting Combine in late February, trying to gauge interest around the league as they prepared to make a run for Manning.
The Jaguars are seen as a natural fit for the Jacksonville native and former Florida star, but the team has two quarterbacks in veteran Chad Henne and last year’s 10th overall pick, Blaine Gabbert.
But the acquisition of the 24-year-old Tebow would surely energize a franchise that has struggled with attendance in recent years.
"I sure hope Jacksonville takes him because he’s such a great kid, such a good player and would be so thrilled to come back to the South," Culpepper said.
Tebow, one of the NFL’s most polarizing figures, led the Broncos on an improbable run to the AFC West title and a playoff victory last season, but he is also an unconventional quarterback whose throwing ability is still a work in progress.
The Miami Dolphins also have been in the market for a quarterback this offseason, but the late Monday signing of veteran David Garrard could douse cold water on a potential Tebow pick-up.
The New England Patriots have been mentioned as a possible suitor for Tebow, though he would have to assume a backup role behind Tom Brady.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has expressed admiration for the former Heisman Trophy winner, and New England’s offensive coordinator is Josh McDaniels, who was the Broncos’ coach when the team drafted Tebow in 2010.
Neither Tebow, nor his agent, have commented since news broke of the Broncos’ signing of Manning.