Jags not wavering on Tebow
For the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tim Tebow is old news.
Even with a segment of Jaguars fans pushing for the franchise to sign Tebow now that the Jacksonville-area native and former University of Florida star is a free agent. Even with the Jaguars having an unsettled situation at quarterback with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne.
New general manager David Caldwell hasn't changed his stance from the day he was hired in January. Tebow isn't coming to the Jaguars under his watch.
"For us, it was always about a fresh start," Caldwell told me and SiriusXM NFL Radio co-host Bill Polian on Tuesday night. "It was about new energy here with coach (Gus) Bradley, with Shad Khan being our new owner, myself as a first-time general manager and a coaching staff that has a lot of first-time coaches there, too.
"We just wanted a fresh start. We didn't want the same recurring themes coming up."
Among those "themes" would be fan and media pressure to play Tebow, who Forbes Magazine ranked earlier this week as the most influential American athlete despite his throwing struggles at the professional level. The New York Jets experienced that distraction in 2012 after acquiring Tebow in a trade with Denver.
When asked by Broncos management where he preferred to get traded, Tebow chose New York over Jacksonville because he believed there was a better chance for him to receive quarterbacking snaps. Tebow, though, barely played last year even as starter Mark Sanchez struggled. Tebow was waived following last month’s draft when the Jets couldn’t find a trade partner and went unclaimed.
This still hasn't kept some Tebow supporters from pushing for his signing in Jacksonville. There was even an online petition posted that asked fans to urge President Obama to call Caldwell and "tell him to stop ignoring the Jaguars fans and sign Tim Tebow!" The petition was removed Monday on the White House web site.
Tebow backers point to the fact he was 7-4 as a starter in 2011 while leading Denver to the playoffs and a first-round victory over Pittsburgh. Tebow was able to compensate for a 46.5 completion percentage with his mobility and penchant for leading late comebacks.
Tebow has continued to work this offseason with outside coaches and trainers to try and improve his throwing mechanics. But there also is a feeling among some NFL executives that he has no more upside as an NFL passer and it’s better to invest in developing a younger quarterback, especially with Tebow having become a lightning rod for controversy with the Jets and Broncos.
Asked whether he felt the same based upon his Tebow comments, Caldwell said, "You can read into that however you would like."
Polian believes an NFL team shouldn't consider signing Tebow unless he was willing to publicly denounce playing the quarterback position and instead try to stick as a jack-of-all-trades contributor. Tebow, who did appear on special teams for the Jets, has reiterated this offseason that he wants to remain at quarterback.
Another strike against a Tebow signing in Jacksonville: The Jaguars already have a former college quarterback who could fill a niche short-yardage or red-zone role at the position if desired. Denard Robinson, a 2013 fifth-round pick from the University of Michigan, impressed the Jaguars during their rookie minicamp last weekend as he is converted to running back.
Caldwell said he envisions Robinson receiving "10 to 15 snaps" per game as a rusher or receiver. Robinson also is the frontrunner to return kickoffs.
Polian, who had Caldwell on his personnel staff when serving as Indianapolis Colts president and general manager, said eschewing a Tebow signing is wise for the Jaguars. Polian pointed to Caldwell's employment with the Colts and Atlanta Falcons as they fielded Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan respectively under center.
"David has been around a lot of really good quarterbacks," Polian said. "He knows what a really good quarterback looks like. He's able to judge quarterbacks.
"My opinion is he's made the right judgment. It's time to stop beating that (Tebow) drum."
Based on history and his enduring popularity, the beat still will go on until Tebow lands somewhere.