Now that Peyton Manning has displaced Tim Tebow in Denver and a trade is in the works, where will the Kneeling One take his talents? Only time will tell, but TIME.com isn’t opposed to taking a few guesses.
Any speculation about Destination Tebow has to start in Florida. Gator fans haven’t forgotten his Heisman heroics or two national championships in college, and they’d surely pay to see him come home. Tebow is a draw anywhere. In Florida, he’d be the golden goose. Miami was in hot pursuit of Manning and is one of the few teams left standing after the first round of free agent quarterback musical chairs. All that being said, Tebow wouldn’t be a good choice for Miami’s offense. With new coach Joe Philbin running the show, it’s going to be pass-heavy and run-light, not at all Tebow’s forte. With the eighth pick in next month’s draft, Miami may have a shot at Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. We’re betting they pin their hopes there.
Another odd team out in the quarterback raffle, Cleveland might sound like a promising home for Tebow. We don’t see it. Precision passing offenses just don’t have much reason to pick him up unless they want to sell more jerseys, and team president Mike Holmgren isn’t one for flashy moves. (He might reach for Tannehill at fourth overall).
Jacksonville, another prospect for a Florida homecoming, makes a lot more sense. The only problem is that they already have two QBs who started last year: Blaine Gabbert, whose rookie season offered promise if not actually good quarterback play, and newly signed veteran Chad Henne, a reliable game-managing backup. GM Gene Smith has passed on Tebow before, but new owner Shahid Khan may not be able to resist the mile-high miracle-maker as a draw, especially with the Jags fighting off broadcast blackouts. In pure business terms, Jacksonville is the most logical fit.
Minnesota is another two-quarterback team that could use a financial windfall: After a mixed first season, Vikings fans are hopeful Christian Ponder can effectively manage a run-first squad long term, while Joe Webb already fills the role of an agile QB who can shift around field. One wildcard in the frosty north: Tebow might just be the kind of star that can ignite enthusiasm for Minnesota’s stadium upgrade, which is mired in the state legislature.
Philadelphia is another semi-plausible fit for Tebow as a backup. It’s a packed house with Mike Vick, Mike Kafka, Trent Edwards and Vince Young all on the roster, but head coach Andy Reid likes acquiring marketable talent on the cheap and clearly has a thing for mobile quarterbacks. You never know.
In terms of coaching and offense, the best fit is probably New England. We’re of the John Elway school of thought that says Tebow is not a sustainable starter in today’s NFL, but he could get some minutes backing up Tom Brady. Bill Belichick can move versatile athletes around the field and loves nothing more than confounding opponents with the occasional gadget play. Plus offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels already has a relationship with Tebow and there’d be an opportunity for sweet revenge against Manning and the Broncos this season at Gillette Stadium.
If none of those teams sounds like a perfect fit, it’s because there isn’t one. Tebow’s difficult to build around and he’s not a free agent–these organizations would have to trade away something of value to get him. So there’s a chance everyone passes, leaving Tebow stranded in Denver, something that neither party really wants at this point. The benches can get mighty cold at that altitude.
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