JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tim Tebow is going into town.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to sign the former University of Florida star and reunite him with his college head coach Urban Meyer over the next several weeks. However, he will be close to ending, not a quarterback, which means he will learn a new position six years after his last NFL practice session (the 2015 preseason with the Philadelphia Eagles).
NFL teams wanted Tebow to consider after failing as an NFL quarterback, but Tebow was determined to stay behind the center. Nine years after last playing in a regular NFL season game, he’s ready to make the change.
Why is Tebow returning now?
Tebow clearly wants to remain a professional athlete. Since the baseball thing with the New York Mets didn’t work out, this is his best shot – mostly because of Meyer.
Meyer and Tebow won two national championships in Florida from 2006 to 2009 and have stayed close to each other. So it should come as no surprise that Meyer agreed when Tebow called and asked for a sample earlier this year. It’s hard to imagine that many other NFL coaches or general managers would be willing to give a 33-year-old who hasn’t been part of the league in six years a rehearsal in a position he’s never played.
What are Tebow’s chances of forming the team?
He played a close end to a handful of snaps with the New York Jets in 2012. He was not asked to block linebackers or defensive ends snap by snap. He’s never caught a pass in college or the NFL (his only career NFL goal is below). Tebow is a very good athlete and he will put the work – and extra work – in, but he starts at Ground Zero.
Tim Tebow: TE1🥴pic.twitter.com/mXT2Q4FP9v
– PFF (@PFF) May 10, 2021
There are five other bottlenecks on the roster who have played at least college and NFL positions, and he would have to surpass one and maybe two of these experienced bottlenecks to make the roster.
His chances would be higher if the Jaguars created a role for Tebow, much like the New Orleans Saints did with Taysom Hill. Tebow could certainly be an effective wildcat runner, and the danger of a pass would of course be there every time he snapped a shot. But even then, it would only be a handful of snapshots per game.
The Saints also knew they could start Hill at quarterback if Drew Brees was injured. This will not be the case with Tebow.
Does Tebow only sign to sell tickets?
If it was 2013 or 2014, you could make that argument. But not now.
The jaguars were already rolling in the ticket department, thanks to the hiring of Meyer and the addition of Trevor Lawrence with the first overall selection. Even before the draft, the sales office had eight times as many new deposits compared to previous seasons, and the team says more than 50% of those deposits came from people who had never bought a ticket from the Jaguars before.
Demand is similar to before the 2018 season after the Jaguars’ surprising run to the AFC Championship Game last season. The Jaguars had more than three times as many season ticket deposits in January 2018 as in the entire previous year.
There might be some people buying a ticket to see Tebow – this is his hometown and a huge Florida Gators city – but only if he makes the team.
What does he bring to the team that Trey Burton wouldn’t, for example?
That is … unclear.
Be a role model for younger players? There are several veteran players out there who can do it – people like wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., linebacker Myles Jack, linebacker Joe Schobert, center Brandon Linder, and safety Jarrod Wilson. These guys played a lot of football and had more seals of approval from the players. Plus, almost every NFL player works hard in the weight room and training. Many are doing extra work, be it after a workout, in the meeting room, or by studying film at home. The ones who generally don’t stay in the league long.
To convey what Meyer wants culturally? Carlos Hyde, left guard Andrew Norwell, the defensive end Lerentee McCray and the close end Luke Farrell also played for Meyer. You know what he wants. This also applies to deputy head coach Charlie Strong, who served as defensive coordinator in both of Meyer’s championship titles in Florida, and to head strength and conditioning coach Anthony Schlegel, who has spent three seasons with Meyer, Ohio. The jaguars don’t have to sign Tebow for this.
Being a good locker room guy? This is an example for younger players. Tebow will be a great dressing room, as will numerous other players. And how much can he lead if he also tries to learn a new position? There’s only one player on the squad who last played in the league the last time Tebow played in a regular season game: Jones, who was a rookie at Cincinnati in 2012.
Bottom line, this seems to be Meyer doing one of his former favorite players a favor as there are several free agent bottlenecks available that would be a better option for a team looking for a passport catcher, including Burton, Richard Rodgers, and Tyler Eifert who caught 36 passes for the Jaguars last season.