Breaking Down Tim Tebow's Free-Agent Stock

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IApril 29, 2013

The Tim Tebow experiment with the New York Jets has finally come to a merciful end. Now it's worth wondering if Tebow's short-term future in the NFL is in serious jeopardy, especially as a quarterback.

Brian Costello of the New York Daily Post reported his release Monday morning, just days after New York drafted West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in the second round. Tebow lasted only one year with the Jets, who sent a fourth- and sixth-round pick to the Denver Broncos for the polarizing backup last summer. 

Tebow received just scant trade interest from around the NFL when the Broncos put him on the block in March of 2012. Only the Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars showed any kind of tangible engrossment in bringing Tebow aboard. 

Even less came his way when the Jets did the same following last season, leaving New York no choice but to cut a player it hyped to ridiculous levels but then had absolutely no plan to use. 

And now Tebow enters a free-agent market that probably couldn't be colder.

NFL teams have just spent an offseason signing free agents, drafting players and picking up undrafted free agents. Tebow was released Monday—two days after the league's annual personnel auction—leaving him precious few opportunities to find work elsewhere, at least in the immediate future. 

Unless a team was saving a roster spot in the likely event Tebow would be released, it's unlikely any of the 32 teams have significant interest in signing the quarterback right now. If a team was in the market for a quarterback, they probably just drafted one or signed a priority free agent in the last week.

But it's entirely possible Tebow's career as an NFL quarterback is over anyway, and that any chance of him eventually sticking on a roster will be predicated on a position switch. 

Tebow has turned away attempts at such a transition in the past.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, "more than one team asked" during trade talks if Tebow would be willing to move to tight end, but he said no. His unwavering commitment to playing quarterback likely sapped any chance he had at being moved from New York via trade.

Reasons for a requested position change from Tebow aren't difficult to pin down. A Heisman Trophy winner and national champion at the University of Florida, Tebow has struggled to adjust to the passing aspect of the NFL game.

Over 35 games in three seasons, Tebow has completed just 47.9 percent of his passes with a passer rating of 75.3.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Tebow's completion percentage is the worst in the NFL since 2010. Also, the last quarterback to complete fewer than 48 percent of his passes over his first three seasons is none other than Akili Smith, one of the draft's great busts at the quarterback position. 

The NFL has shifted slightly toward the read-option, but the effectiveness of such an offense requires the threat of throwing the football. Tebow simply hasn't proved in three seasons that he can be a dual-threat with any kind of consistency.

His time in New York, which began with such bravado, ended in a short statement posted on the Jets website.

“We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan said in the statement released by the team. “Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped." 

The Jets certainly had grandiose plans for Tebow, who, immediately following the trade, was strutted out to the biggest press conference ever assembled for a backup quarterback. But nothing football related ever came from the overwhelming attention Tebow brought with him. 

New York gave Tebow just 77 offensive snaps during the 2012 season. He threw just eight passes and failed to score a touchdown on 32 carries. The Jets made him the protector on the punt team, a role seemingly more important to New York than figuring out a creative package to use him in the offense.

And despite being in the middle of a quarterback situation that bordered on hysterical for long stretches in 2012, Tebow made zero starts for the Jets. Even when Mark Sanchez was sidelined to injury, New York turned to former seventh-round pick Greg McElroy as the starter. 

Talk about a slap in the face.

The Jets were comically run last season, but the reluctance of such an offense-starved team to play Tebow suggests a skill set that probably isn't a match for the NFL game. 

He'll now be a free agent, completely loosened of the shackles in New York and free to find a situation that doesn't include a team sending back any kind of compensation to the Jets. But that doesn't mean Tebow will find one. 

Unless Tebow signs off on a position change—to tight end, H-back, maybe even running back—there simply aren't many scenarios where the positives outweigh the media circus and locker-room distraction he's certain to bring with him. 

And with teams just days removed from filling their rosters with cheap, moldable players during the NFL draft, Tebow could be waiting some time before the phone starts ringing. 

Love Tim Tebow or hate him, but his free-agent stock as a quarterback probably couldn't be lower.