Tim Tebow will likely spend the offseason looking for a new home after a forgettable year as a member of the New York Jets. He's remained adamant about wanting to play quarterback, which leaves few options, but the Jacksonville Jaguars are the best one.
If there's one place where Tebow is going to get a fair shake it's Florida. The former college superstar is beloved in the Sunshine State, where he helped lead the Gators to a couple of national championships before getting drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos.
Regardless of what you think about Tebow's ability to play quarterback or his future in the NFL, everybody should agree he deserved better treatment from the Jets. Getting out of that mess will allow him to get a fresh spot.
And there's no better landing spot than Jacksonville. The Jaguars are coming off a brutal season. They won just two games while ranking 29th in total offense and 30th in total defense. In other words, very little went right.
A lot of the problems, at least on the offensive side of things, were related to poor quarterback play. Blaine Gabbert showed little sign of progress in his second season and veteran Chad Henne once again proved he's not a long-term option.
Statistically speaking, Jaguars quarterbacks accounted for 21 touchdowns and 22 turnovers. That's simply not going to cut it in today's NFL, which is dominated by high-powered offenses with great quarterbacks, including talented rookies like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
What is Jacksonville's best option?
While Jacksonville would surely love to add their own Luck or Griffin to the equation in April's draft, it isn't going to happen. There aren't any quarterbacks on that level in this year's class.
The only player who comes close is West Virginia star Geno Smith, but he's probably going to get selected by the Kansas City Chiefs with the first pick. Even if he's surprisingly available, the Jaguars can't expect him to replicate this year's rookie success because he isn't as polished.
That's why Tebow makes sense. The Jaguars are in need of a long-term option, but it doesn't appear that one will be readily available. So giving Tebow a chance to prove the doubters wrong, while also providing an immediate boost to the franchise, is a smart move.
The Jaguars lack star power, which makes it tough for casual fans to support a losing team, especially since Maurice Jones-Drew missed so many games. The wide receiver tandem of Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon is exciting, but they don't have wide-ranging appeal yet.
Tebow does. He would sell tickets and merchandise at a mind-boggling rate, and that's exactly what the franchise needs while it continues to rebuild the roster.
In terms of play on the field, Tebow would represent an upgrade even if he doesn't improve over his performance with the Broncos.
Two seasons ago—before the debacle in New York—Tebow finished the season with a quarterback rating of 73, which would put him right in line with the Jaguars' two QBs this season. But Tebow brings the added dimension of running to the table.
In 35 career games (14 starts), the polarizing media sensation has accounted for 29 touchdowns and 15 turnovers. That's not a bad ratio for a player everybody knew would need some game experience at the next level to develop.
The other thing that would work in Tebow's favor in Jacksonville is a lack of pressure. In Denver and New York, the team expectations were high. That won't be the case with Jaguars fans, who should understand the current rebuilding process.
Can Tebow succeed as a full-time starting QB?
He can be handed the keys to the offense for 16 games to prove what he can do. If he succeeds, the Jaguars can continue to build the roster in other areas. If he fails, they should have more realistic QB options next offseason than there are shaping up to be this offseason.
Add in the positive economic impact he'll have on the franchise, and it's clearly an option the Jaguars should seriously consider.
And it appears they are. Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported in late December the Jaguars were tracking the Tebow situation with an eye on bringing him in to compete for the starting job. The NFL insider called it a "virtual certainty" he would end up in Jacksonville.
While there's no guarantee the experiment will succeed, it would certainly go better than the one in New York. Furthermore, the Jaguars don't have much to lose in 2013, limiting any risk associated with bringing in the Heisman Trophy winner.
It's not only the best chance Tebow has available, it might be the final one he gets, at least in terms of being a quarterback. Doing it in front of his diehard fans is the best bet.