With the news that Peyton Manning will reportedly sign a five-year deal with the Denver Broncos, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter, Tim Tebow is as good as gone. GM John Elway was never a big fan of Tebow, and will now likely try to trade the former first-round pick.
Jacksonville and Miami seem to be the logical destinations for Tebow and it’s likely that the Buffalo Bills will inquire, especially considering the massive contract they gave the mediocre Ryan Fitzpatrick. There has been speculation of Tebow going to a team with a proven quarterback like the New England Patriots or Green Bay Packers, but Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers would have to be out of their mind to throw their support for the NFL’s leader in jersey sales last year.
The Philadelphia Eagles seem like one of the last teams that would express interest in Tebow, but consider some of the crazy moves the team has done in the past several seasons: Draft Kevin Kolb with Donovan McNabb still in his prime. Sign Michael Vick. Let Brian Dawkins go. Trade Donovan McNabb within the division. Sign Nnamdi Asomugha even with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel already on the roster. At this point, there’s really nothing the Eagles can do that would surprise me.
Michael Vick signed a six-year, $100 million deal after his memorable 2010 season but there’s no way he will play that deal out. The Eagles are reportedly on the hook for Vick’s ’12 salary but can then part ways with their quarterback without any penalty. Vick has missed seven games total in his two seasons as the team’s starter, and resorted back to his erratic and inconsistent ways in 2011, turning the ball over at an astronomical rate.
The Eagles could easily draft a quarterback in the upper rounds of the 2012 draft. Brandon Weeden is likely the most NFL-ready, but at 28 years old, he would be missing five or so years from his prime. Then again, the Eagles did draft the 26-year-old Danny Watkins with their first-round pick in 2011, the oldest first-round selection in league history. Nick Foles, Brock Osweiler and Kirk Cousins are all second-round caliber players that the Eagles could choose and groom to be their quarterback of the future.
Andy Reid considers himself a quarterback guru, and rightfully so. He missed with Kevin Kolb, although he was still able to trade him away for a second-round pick and DRC, and Reid nailed it with Donovan McNabb, A.J. Feeley (traded for a second-round pick) and Vick.
Tebow is a similar player to Vick; both are left-handed passers that can move around quite a bit. Both are extremely dangerous in the open field, highly erratic when throwing the ball and playmakers that could benefit from proper coaching. Vick obviously is a much more effective passer who was blessed with substantially more arm strength. The Eagles likely wouldn’t trade for Tebow because of how similar he is to Vick, but say the team could get Tebow for a third- or fourth-round pick. Reid might find it to be a good fit, considering the Eagles wouldn’t have to change their offense too much.
That plan failed with Vince Young in 2011, although Young doesn’t have a strong work ethic or the intelligence to learn the West Coast offense (especially in a lockout-shortened offseason). Trading for Tebow simply to be the backup could be detrimental to Vick; one bad game from Vick and the fanbase would be clamoring for the popular Tebow, the anti-Vick when it comes to high morals and character. Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg are also high on 2010 fourth-round pick Mike Kafka, an extremely smart quarterback that fully understands the offense but lacks the physical tools to be a star. And the Eagles also acquired former Buffalo Bills castoff Trent Edwards, likely to battle it out with Kafka for the backup spot.
Trading for Tebow doesn’t seem like the logical move unless the team trades away Vick also. If a team is willing to take on Vick’s salary, then there’s always a chance Reid may take a chance on Tebow. The 47.3 lifetime completion percentage, 75.1 passer rating and absurdly high sack rate aren’t what will get Reid’s attention but his low interception rate, dynamic rushing skills and especially his unteachable intangibles are a coach’s dream.
Reid has never hesitated from taking a shot with a quarterback that has previously failed. Vince Young was a bust after being taken third overall with the Tennessee Titans, and Reid pounced on him as the backup. Vick was a convict out of prison with extremely raw passing skills even after six seasons in the league, and Reid took him under his wing. Tebow is a project, but Reid loves a challenge. Tebow’s numbers in Denver were subpar with Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Daniel Fells as his receiving threats. There’s no question he would improve substantially with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek, not to mention LeSean McCoy out of the backfield, and an extremely stable offensive line that has all five members locked up through 2014.
Tebow rumors will swirl until he is traded or until Elway announces he is not trading Tebow (which is highly unlikely). Until a move happens, the Eagles have to be seen as one of the leading contenders for Tebow, especially considering their current quarterback is a 31-year-old injury-prone quarterback that regressed mightily in 2011.