After nearly ten years away from the NFL, it appeared that just about everyone inside the league had forgotten about Tim Tebow.
Everyone except his former college coach.
Last weekend, the Jacksonville Jaguars and their newly hired head coach Urban Meyer inked Tebow to a one-year deal. Instead of playing at quarterback, the former college star will now switch positions to tight end, a spot on the field better suited to his natural athleticism and bulky frame.
Still, the move has left many asking questions. Why Tebow? Why now? How will he be used? While we don't have all the answers, let's take a look at what the signing means for Tebow, how he was able to rejoin the NFL, and what his role will be for Jacksonville.
Can Tebow Return to Glory?
Tebow will be returning to the state that saw his greatest success as a collegiate athlete. A Florida alum, Tebow won two BCS Championships in 2006 and 2008 under the tutelage of Meyer, as well as a Heisman Trophy in 2007.
Despite his numerous accolades in college, Tebow's NFL career was ultimately disappointing. While he did lead the Denver Broncos to a miraculous playoff run, he was out of the league just two years later, largely due to his inaccurate throwing style.
Following a disastrous tenure with the New York Jets, a three-year stint in minor league baseball, and a role as an analyst for the SEC Network, Tebow returns to football. Can he capture any of that Gator magic?
Tebow's Fit in Jacksonville
While it isn't too difficult to figure out why Tebow wanted to return to the NFL, it's more difficult to understand Jacksonville's motivation to make the move.
Obviously, Urban Meyer played a major role in bringing Tim into the fold. As the coach who best utilized Tebow's mix of passing and running ability at Florida, it isn't far-fetched to think that he could scheme up a way to get his big tight end (6'3, 245 lbs) involved in the offense. Trick plays that can take advantage of Tebow's experience throwing the ball may also be a possibility.
As far as Tebow's skillset at tight end, it is a bit of a mixed bag. As previously mentioned, Tim has athleticism, and his quarterbacking experience should help him learn new route trees. However, his ability when it comes to catching the ball and blocking, arguably the two most important facets of the position, will likely need work.
Even though some have accused Meyer of playing favorites, it's no secret that he and Tebow have a strong bond. When Tim left for the NFL in 2010, Meyer said that he and his star quarterback "would always have a father-son relationship." Making connections with a head coach at any level in any sport can often pay dividends later on in life, and the Tebow-Meyer pairing is no exception.
A Risky Acquisition?
The move to sign Tebow goes far beyond his athletic skill. In essence, having a high-character, positive presence in the locker room should help a rookie NFL head coach build team chemistry, at least in theory. Others think the move could divide Jacksonville:
Luckily for both Meyer and Tebow, eyeballs will not be glued to Tim's every move. Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars' top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, faces high expectations in his rookie season, as many prognosticators have declared him to be the most talented quarterback prospect in nearly a decade. While some would argue that the media circus that comes with a Tebow move will make Lawrence's first year more difficult, the former Clemson Tiger is no stranger to increased scrutiny.
Can Tebow work for Jacksonville, both on and off the field? The answer is unclear right now; in fact, he may not even make the final roster. What we do know is that Tebow's connections with his old head coach played a major role in landing his new job, and Meyer isn't simply gifting him a spot on the team. While some may accuse Meyer of playing favorites, he wouldn't be the first coach to sign players he has a history with.
For Tim Tebow, learning a new position is a challenge most wouldn't even consider at his age, and it remains to be seen how quickly he can pick up the nuances of playing tight end. With clear support from his old (and now current) head coach, the 33-year old must make the most of this opportunity to silence doubters.