The heart wants what the heart wants, or so the cheesy phrase goes — and when it comes to Urban Meyer, he wanted Tim Tebow. Now, the Jacksonville Jaguars are signing the 33-year-old quarterback, turned baseball player, turned broadcaster, and turning him into a tight end. Why? Nobody knows. Does it makes sense? Absolutely not. Is it going to end poorly? Yeah, probably.
Tebow returning to the NFL after a six year hiatus is unquestionably the weirdest, and dumbest signing of the offseason. A move that makes functionally no sense, almost assuredly won’t make the Jaguars a better team, while welcoming unneeded outside pressure to the beginning of Trevor Lawrence’s tenure. With so many questions on why the Jaguars made this decision, Meyer didn’t really have a great answer, other than the nebulous “I’m here to win games” platitude, which every coach offers.
“Meyer reiterated during his press conference that his job is to win games, however, that may come about, not to simply give favors to past players.”
Any time you feel the need to refute cronyism without being asked, there’s a pretty good chance you know you’re practicing cronyism.
The fact is: If Meyer and Tebow didn’t have an existing relationship from their time in Florida there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell he would be signed to play tight end. Obviously there’s some reason the Jaguars coach decided this move would be good, but it’s impossible to believe it was actually about winning football games.
At the very best Tebow will play as an H-back, a position that feels almost antiquated in the league now where teams are looking for vertical passing threats from the tight end position and finding ways to use them as hybrid slot receivers. Tebow doesn’t have the athleticism, the hands, or the speed for the modern tight end — so a position and role are more or less going to need to be invented for him. Even with an outside shot of even making the team, all attention will be on him.
It’s here I find Meyer’s claims this is about winning games to be hollow. The Jaguars still have almost $40M in cap space, the best of any NFL team. The organization has plenty of money to sign an actual tight end. Heck, they’ve been mulling over bringing Tyler Eifert back. Now, let’s assume the Jaguars don’t think Eifert is the answer. Okay, fair. What about Trey Burton? He’s four years younger than Tebow, has actually been playing in the NFL, and had a moderately productive years in 2020, finishing with 250 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Sure, it’s nothing to write home about, but substantially more than Tebow’s 0 yards and 0 touchdowns in the last six years.
If Meyer wanted Tebow around the organization, felt his influence would make the Jaguars better, then why not hire him in a coaching or advisory role? It would have checked all the boxes of bringing him into the team and giving him a job, without the unneeded distraction of having him on the main roster.
And make no mistake, Tebow is a distraction.
Part of this is a problem of his own making. Tebow became the poster child for perceived Christian persecution and cultivated a brand around it. You don’t just sign Tim Tebow, you bring in every insufferable Tebow fan who claims he was kicked out of the NFL due to his faith, not because he just wasn’t good at NFL football. At a time where the focus should be on starting the Trevor Lawrence era, and putting every bit of support around him, now there’s a distraction.
There is no chance on planet earth Tim Tebow ever takes another snap at quarterback in the NFL outside of an emergency injury scenario. That won’t matter to Tebow fans. Should Lawrence go through regular rookie growing pains there will be a loud vocal minority clamoring for Tebow, much as they did during his first NFL run. Opportunities for Lawrence to assert himself as the face of the franchise will be challenged, intentionally or unintentionally, by the circus that comes with Tim Tebow.
It’s not fair to Lawrence. It’s not fair to the team trying to start a new era. It doesn’t make sense as a football decision. It’s impossible to believe signing Tebow as a tight end will win football games.
None of this makes any damn sense. The only possible way to view this is that Urban Meyer wanted to give a job to one of his most beloved players of all time — and still, it would have been better to bring him in as a coach, not a player.
This is the dumbest signing in recent memory.