Updated on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
As it is clear that quarterback Tim Tebow will no longer be a member of the New York Jets come 2013, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Saturday that “league sources say it is a virtual certainty” the former Florida Gators star “will land a job back home with the Jacksonville Jaguars.”
Tebow, with one year left on his rookie contract, reportedly plans to request a trade or outright release at the end of the season, a move that the Jets will undoubtedly honor as the team no longer wishes to have him on its roster.
The door would then be open for Tebow to join his hometown Jaguars, which were also involved in trade discussions for him this past offseason.
UPDATE: On Sunday, NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport reported similar details, noting that a team source conceded Tebow “will be a Jaguar” in 2013. He also said a trade is possible if Jacksonville wants to ensure it acquires him; the compensation would be “peanuts” and not anything significant.
Rapoport’s news is coming directly from the Jaguars, not Tebow’s contingent. He also points out that the jobs of the head coach and general manager are in jeopardy, but Tebow’s acquisition would occur regardless of who is running the team from the front office.
After acquiring future Hall of Fame signal caller Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos fielded calls for Tebow and got high levels of interest from New York and Jacksonville. Each team offered a fourth-round pick and $3 million for an advance that had already been paid to Tebow, prompting Denver to give him the ability to choose his new home.
Tebow ultimately picked the Jets because conversations with the team’s executives and coaching staff led him to believe he would have a better opportunity to play right away and potentially win the starting quarterback job down the road. Instead, he barely saw the field in 2012 and was passed over this week when head coach Rex Ryan chose to bench Mark Sanchez and start third-stringer Greg McElroy in his place.
The Jaguars’ interest in Tebow is two-fold. In addition to being an extremely popular hometown hero whose presence would help fill the EverBank Field and bring life to a down franchise, Tebow could also compete for the starting job with 2011 first-round draft choice Blaine Gabbert and veteran Chad Henne.
“In 2013, the Jaguars will have an open competition at quarterback and a team source conceded it’s a ‘high likelihood’ Tebow will be part of the mix,” Mortensen reported.
In an interview with WKOV 690 AM on Jan. 30, new Jacksonville owner Shahid Khan told a radio caller that he would have no problem trading for Tebow if was to be made available last offseason. “When is the next time Jacksonville is going to have an athlete like Tim Tebow?” he questioned rhetorically.
The host then asked Khan if he would have drafted Tebow had he been the owner of the Jaguars at the time. “100 percent I would have. Absolutely,” he said. “The first Jaguars game I came to was in , we played Denver here. There were a lot more Tebow jerseys in the Jaguars stands than the teal jerseys for any player, let’s face it. You hate to get into 20/20 hindsight and finger pointing but certainly [I would have drafted him] if I had anything to do with it. We probably won’t have a chance like that again.”
Khan will now have his second opportunity to acquire Tebow in as many offseasons and chances are he will be able to do so without giving up any compensation.
There was said to have been resistance from Jacksonville’s new coaching staff to bring Tebow in last year – the reason the Jaguars did not up their offer in an attempt to land him – but one can be certain that Khan will have his way if he decides to make acquiring Tebow a priority for the franchise.
Tebow has a career record of 8-6 as a starting quarterback, which includes a 1-2 record his rookie season when he started the final three games of the year with an interim head coach. He went 7-4 as a starter for the Broncos in 2011, including six-straight wins during the regular season and an overtime playoff victory against Pittsburgh. He also led a come-from-behind win at Miami when he replaced Kyle Orton.
Tebow has a career 17-9 TD-INT ratio with 12 rushing touchdowns in 23 total games from 2010-11. He averages 6.71 yards per pass and 5.0 yards per carry but only completes passes at a 47.9 percent rate. This season in New York, Tebow went 6-of-8 for 39 yards and ran 32 times for 102 yards.