Tim Tebow has officially signed a contract with the New England Patriots, but fans of the former Heisman Trophy winner should wait a few months to celebrate his new job. It could be over before it ever begins if he doesn't show significant improvement as a passer.
As ESPN's Adam Schefter reported, Tebow's two-year contract includes absolutely zero guaranteed money:
Tim Tebow signed a two-year contract with the Patriots that included no guaranteed money.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 11, 2013
Essentially, there's no guarantee Tebow will even be on New England's roster by the time the regular season begins. If he doesn't work out the way Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels hope he will, the Pats won't have any qualms about letting him go.
Did the Pats sign Tebow to take a shot at the Jets, or do they think he can actually play?
Remember, Ryan Mallett is Tom Brady's backup, and Belichick rolled with just two quarterbacks on his roster last year after releasing Brian Hoyer in late-August when the team cut from 75 players down to 53.
This isn't a doom-and-gloom scenario for Tebow. Honestly, he's in the best spot to succeed, but if he doesn't improve as a passer, the Patriots won't hesitate to cut ties with him and move on—something the team has never had issues with under Belichick.
New England didn't sign Tebow to be a tight end, running back, special-teams ace or anything other than a quarterback. As Ian Rapoport of NFL Network pointed out, Tebow has never accepted playing any other position:
How will the #Patriots use Tim Tebow? He's going to play quarterback. Has never accepted playing another position.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 10, 2013
The Patriots didn't likely sign Tebow to run the scout team, either. Rapoport noted New England doesn't even face a left-handed quarterback this season:
The #Patriots don't face a team in 2013 with a lefty starting QB. So doubtful Tim Tebow would run the scout team… if he makes the team— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 10, 2013
Tebow has struggled during his time in the NFL as a pure passer. He has completed less than half his passes (47.9 percent) and many of his incompletions have been laughably off-target, due to horrendous mechanics.
He's been working with a couple of renowned quarterback gurus this past winter/spring, and the early reports have been promising about his improvement. Bob Glauber of Newsday reported back in mid-April that Tebow had been working with Steve Clarkson, who said Tebow's "faulty mechanics" were fixed.
"I would hope wherever he ends up, they give him an opportunity to play, because if they do, they'll be pleasantly surprised. I think the guy can still play," Clarkson said.
ESPN's Trent Dilfer also has reported some big improvements from Tebow after he worked with Dennis Gile of The Q Academy:
Tebow will sink or swim as a pure quarterback with the Patriots.
The team likely signed him because it believes he has the potential to become an NFL starter at some point. He'll need to show his improved mechanics on a regular basis and complete a higher percentage of his passes than he has in the past.
Should Tebow prove to be capable, he'll be on New England's roster at the start of the 2013 season as a backup. Should he prove to be the same guy whose passes hit the turf more often than not during his first three years in the NFL, it's likely he'll be looking for work again before the regular season begins.
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