National Football League

Will Tim Tebow's presence be worth the distraction for Jaguars?

May 17

Tim Tebow is one step closer to returning to the football field, but will signing him be an advantageous, outside-the-box move for the Jaguars, or will curiosity kill the cat? 

Tebow is eyeing an NFL comeback after an eight-and-a-half-year hiatus from football that included a five-year stint in the New York Mets’ minor-league system. 

Last month, reports surfaced that the former Heisman Trophy winner and two-time BCS national champion worked out in Jacksonville as a tight end after requesting a tryout

After much speculation about what could come from those workouts, reports emerged last Monday that the Jaguars planned to sign Tebow to a one-year contract to play tight end, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero. 

"Nothing is done yet, but this is expected to be official in the next week or so," Rapoport said.

"It is expected to be a one-year deal where Tebow will have the chance to make … an impression, and we will see where this goes from here. But yes, in the next few days, in the coming days, Tebow is expected to be back in the NFL."

Last week on the "Cris Collinsworth PFF Podcast," coach Urban Meyer praised his former starting quarterback’s "incredible shape" and called him a "competitive maniac" in his workouts with the Jags, which had the organization saying Tebow looked and performed years younger than he actually is. 

If things go according to plan, the 33-year-old Tebow will be rejoining Meyer, his former college coach. 

The two former Florida greats worked together from 2006 to ‘09 while Meyer was the head coach of the Gators. In 2007, Tebow became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy in its then-72 year history. He was also a Heisman finalist in 2008 and ’09. 

In 2008, Tebow led Florida to a 13–1 record and its second national championship in three years. He threw for 9,285 yards, 88 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in his four-year career at Florida, adding another 2,947 rushing yards and a staggering 57 rushing touchdowns.

Tebow was a first-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2010 and went 8-6 in 14 starts at QB. After 23 total games across two seasons and a dramatic playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets when Denver signed Peyton Manning during the offseason. 

Tebow started in just two of 12 games for the Jets, primarily serving as a backup quarterback behind Mark Sanchez. He played a total of 73 offensive snaps and 59 special-teams snaps, rushed 32 times for 102 yards and completed six of eight passes for 39 yards. 

Tebow was released from the Jets after one season and went on to sign a two-year, no-money-guaranteed contract with the New England Patriots, appearing in three preseason games before the Pats cut him ahead of the 2013 season. Tebow had another short training camp stint with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 but, once again, failed to make the team’s 53-man, regular-season roster. 

That was the last time Tebow was in the NFL before his professional career pivoted to baseball with the Mets in 2016. The Jaguars’ new franchise QB, Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, was just 13 years old the last time Tebow played in an NFL game. 

Currently, the Jags have Chris Manhertz as their starting tight end going into the 2021 season, with James O’Shaughnessy, Tyler Davis, Ben Ellefson and 2021 fifth-round draft pick Luke Farrell also on the depth chart. The past three seasons, these players (minus Farrell) haven’t made much of an impact in Jacksonville, racking up a combined 67 receptions, 629 yards and two touchdowns across 49 games.

Could signing Tebow be the secret sauce the Jags need to elevate the tight end position? Or is Meyer simply giving his former star preferential treatment and potentially taking a roster spot away from a younger, better player?

Former NFL GM Mike Tannenbaum said on ESPN's "First Take" that if Tebow makes the roster, it will destroy Meyer's credibility.

But former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall said on "First Things First" that it all depends on how Tebow does on the field. 

"When it’s time to strap up, let’s see if Tim Tebow performs," Marshall said. 

"It’s not gonna matter until Tim Tebow makes the team. … When he makes the team — let’s say if he makes the team — then that’s what matters. Urban Meyer, you’re on the clock. … If Tim Tebow doesn’t perform, then [the veteran players] are going to be at his neck." 

While it's still up in the air whether the former QB can make a successful comeback at tight end, it looks like we’ll be seeing Tebow Time in Florida after all.

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