Can Tim Tebow Really Make a Comeback in Jacksonville?

By Akiva Wienerkur   May 27, 2021 

Can Tim Tebow Really Make a Comeback in Jacksonville?

The Jacksonville Jaguars just drafted Trevor Lawrence, one of the most highly thought of quarterback prospects in years, No. 1 overall. 

Tight end is often a vital position for any quarterback, particularly young ones adjusting to the speed of the game. Good pass catching tight ends serve as important options catching short passes. Good blocking ones offer extra protection and time. 

So, it makes sense that the Jaguars signing a tight end would get attention. But the attention for a recent tight end signing is not commensurate with his experience.

Tim Tebow’s overt Christianity has made him a hugely marketable star. He was also a great college football player who was the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy and led the University of Florida to a national championship. As a pro, he had a brief flash of success with Denver when he took over as the Broncos’ starter in the sixth game of the 2011 season and led them to the playoffs. Denver later traded him to the New York Jets. He also played for New England and Philadelphia, but made no impact with any of those three franchises.

Those accomplishments were all as a quarterback, though. And they also happened when Tebow was at his athletic peak. He’s 33-years-old now, and he’d been playing minor league baseball in the New York Mets system since 2016.

Broncos #15, Tim Tebow takes the first regular-season snap of his NFL career with 14:28 to play in the second quarter on Sept. 12, 2010, at EverBank Field.

Tebow’s former college coach, Urban Meyer, is the new coach of the Jaguars. The franchise has always had a hard time finding star power and relevance, so it wasn’t surprising in that context that Tebow was brought in for a tryout at tight end. Physically, Tebow has always been big, fast, and durable for a quarterback too, so at least based on his sheer physical profile, it’s not a reach to see him as a tight end.

But actually making the team and contributing? That seems like a longshot. The team signed him to a contract, though, and seems to be moving forward with the idea that he can help them on the field. DraftKings actually gives Tebow +3300 odds at winning the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award, the 12th best odds they’re giving any player.

The cynical view of the signing is that the Jaguars are using a player who couldn’t possibly contribute at a brand-new position at his age to simply boost interest in the team. And evidence certainly suggests Tebow’s fame is valuable to them – after Tebow’s signing, he had the top five selling items on the NFL Shop website

Meyer remains steadfast that they wouldn’t have signed him if they didn’t believe there was a chance he could help the team, though. Tebow isn’t even the team’s only eyebrow raising move – they drafted Clemson running back Travis Etienne with their second first round pick despite having good depth at the position already with James Robinson and Carlos Hyde. Meyer told ESPN that he envisions using Etienne in the passing game and lining him up all over the field, similar to how he used Percy Harvin at Florida. 

Tebow, if his athleticism and speed are still intact, could also be used creatively. The team drafted tight end Luke Farrell and signed Chris Manhertz in free agency, but both are known for their blocking and not their receiving. If Tebow has hands and can combine that with his speed, perhaps he could become another weapon in the passing game.

“I have one job and that is to win games with the Jacksonville Jaguars,” Meyer told Sports Illustrated. “If Tim Tebow or Travis Etienne can help us win, then that’s my job to get them ready to go play. That decision is certainly not made yet.”

Of course, the signing could also be a colossal flop. Tebow’s fanbase is immense and has always been vocal in their belief in his abilities – even when on-field evidence suggested that he wasn’t capable of being a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL because of his lack of accuracy and poor throwing mechanics. The fact that the Jaguars signed him has already ratcheted up hope among his fans, so if he doesn’t make the team, they’ll definitely face backlash. 

There obviously isn’t a lot known about his abilities at the tight end spot, but his one career receiving target when he was a Jet … did not go well. His former teammate with the Jets called Tebow’s time with the team “a sideshow.”  

It will almost certainly be the same in Jacksonville. If Tebow’s attention overshadows other teammates or what the young team is trying to build, that will almost certainly have a more negative impact than any momentary boost in merchandise sales provides.

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