Tim Tebow has rejected a two-game contract to play in Russia for the Moscow Black Storm, reports R-Sport. But that may not have been the best decision in his fight to return to the NFL. If Tebow were smart, then he would consider the opportunity presented to him and play in Russia.
The contract would have paid Tebow $1 million to appear in those two games, though the money presumably was not what deterred the quarterback. I mean, $1 million for two games in Russia is pretty good. If anything, it was the thought of playing in Russia that made Tebow uneasy.
Tebow's refusal of the offer really came as no surprise. He has stated since his release from the New England Patriots that he will "remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback," per Cindy Boren of the Washington Post.
While the best opportunity for him to play in the NFL immediately could be in Jacksonville (or even Cleveland if the Brian Hoyer experiment doesn't pan out), no NFL franchise appears to have reached out to the quarterback.
Earlier in the week, there was even a rally in Jacksonville to bring Tebow to the Jaguars. The fanbase is clearly fed up with Blaine Gabbert and is looking for a change. Tebow would be the face of the franchise that the Jaguars so desperately need.
Regardless, it isn't Tebow's fault that he isn't in Jacksonville. Owner Shahid Khan and general manager David Caldwell have seemingly done nothing to bring him onto a team destined to finish near the bottom of the NFL this season.
Given the semi-surprising lack of interest in him, Tebow should not have refused the offer to play in Russia. American football in Russia is a few steps down from the NFL (OK, more than a few), but having success at any level would be enough to open the eyes of teams thinking about giving him a call.
If anything, Tebow could use the opportunity in Russia to show teams that he can stand in the pocket and pass. Given the low stakes of playing there, he could stay in the pocket and not look to run. It would essentially be an overseas tryout for teams looking into acquiring his services.
Tebow's inability to show any consistency throwing the football is his biggest downfall. In three seasons, he has completed just 47.9 percent of his passes. To put that into perspective, his 47.9 percent for his career is six full points worse than Chad Henne's league-worst 53.9 percent passing from last season.
In two games in Russia, Tebow could have worked on his pocket passing skills and shown off what he's got to NFL scouts. Scouts would have either been in attendance or closely monitoring both of his games, so Tebow's refusal to play is interesting. It would have been an open tryout that could have potentially led to the furthering of his NFL career—something he's striving for.
The owner of the Black Storm, Mikhail Zaltsman, questioned that drive to return to the NFL after Tebow turned down his offer. Clearly bitter about the decision, Zaltsman had this to say, via R-Sport:
Unfortunately agents of Tim Tebow turn down our proposal. I hope that it's Tebow’s agents’ fault that the contract wasn’t signed and Tim couldn’t do anything about it. If it was his decision – it’s very upsetting. And in this case we don’t want him in our team anyway.
But wait, Zaltsman wasn't finished.
"We are looking for the people that pursue their dreams, not the ones who talk about it," he said.
What type of impact would playing in Russia have had on Tebow's career?
Tebow wouldn't have lost anything by accepting the two-game offer. It's not like his career was about to completely move overseas to Russia. A two-game contract was the best opportunity he had to reestablish some value to NFL teams and prove that he can pass in the pocket.
Now that he turned the offer, it will be interesting to see his strategy for returning to the NFL. Maybe, just maybe, he'll wait for the Jacksonville ownership to become completely fed up with the failed Gabbert experiment. Or maybe his goals extend beyond that.
Tebow could be looking at a 2014 return to the league, so don't expect to see him wearing an NFL uniform this season. It just doesn't appear to be in the cards.