Packers Liked Tebow But Trade Seems Unlikely

With Denver's $96 million signing of Peyton Manning, love-him-or-hate-him quarterback Tim Tebow is on the trading block. Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy spoke highly of Tebow at the 2010 Scouting Combine, and for good reason, but we tell you why a deal will not be made in this analysis.

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson is as tightlipped as they come.

Asked about his own Matt Flynn at the Scouting Combine last month, the most insightful comment Thompson could muster was that they were both "from East Texas."

That's why his comments on Tim Tebow from the 2010 Scouting Combine — as well as those comments offered by coach Mike McCarthy — resonate with Tebow on the trading block after Denver's $96 million signing of Peyton Manning.

"I will say this about young Tebow," Thompson said two years ago. "There's been a lot of discussion and commenting about him and his release or his ability to play in the National Football League. Based on his history, I think that would be a little bit premature to start criticizing him and doubting his ability to play. He's been playing at a pretty high level for quite some time. Has to go down as one of the great college football players of all-time, so let's don't sell him short just yet."

Tebow is one of the most athletically gifted quarterbacks in the NFL, which has been a dual-edged sword. With his success over the years linked so inexorably to his running ability, Tebow's throwing mechanics are poor — and especially so for a former first-round pick. Among the six quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl, he was no better than No. 4 or 5 when it came to throwing the football.

Still, it's impossible to knock his success. As a sophomore at Florida, he won the Heisman Trophy. As a junior, he won a national championship. Nobody scored more touchdowns (57) in SEC history, and he was the first player in NCAA history to throw and pass for at least 20 touchdowns in a season.

Nonetheless, the Broncos went after Manning for one reason — they harbor serious doubts about Tebow's ability to consistently play winning football in the NFL. But again, it's hard to knock his success. Recall last season, when the Packers destroyed the Broncos 49-23 at Lambeau Field in Week 4. The Broncos were edged at home the next week by San Diego, dropping to 1-4 in the process.

In came Tebow and off went the Broncos. In the final 11 games, Tebow guided Denver to a 7-4 record and an improbable AFC West title. It certainly wasn't all Tebow but he's an uncanny leader who makes those around him believe.

The Broncos stunned Pittsburgh in the wild-card round. It was vintage Tebow: a woeful 10-of-21 passing, though those 10 completions went for 316 yards and two touchdowns. The playoff loss the following week to New England, however, drove home Tebow's limitations. He completed a pitiful 9-of-26 passes in a 45-10 drubbing at the hands of the eventual AFC champions.

As a rookie, Tebow completed 50.0 percent of his passes in nine games (three starts). In his second year, Tebow actually backtracked, completing 46.5 percent of his passes in 14 games (11 starts).

It took just two years for the Broncos to give up on their first-round pick. Now what? ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Green Bay, Jacksonville and San Francisco are possible landing places.

Jacksonville makes sense. The franchise is a disaster and a Florida homecoming — Tebow grew up in Jacksonville — would awaken a snoozing fan base and lead to a much-needed surge in ticket sales. The team's new owner, Shahid Khan, recently said he "absolutely" would have drafted Tebow had he owned the team in 2010. The Jaguars used their first-round pick last year on Blaine Gabbert, who struggled in 14 starts with a completion percentage of 50.8 with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

San Francisco makes sense, too. Even if the 49ers re-sign Alex Smith, Tebow would offer a wrinkle to an offense that couldn't get out of its own way in a loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship Game.

The Packers? Unless they're truly sold on Graham Harrell, the Packers need a No. 2 quarterback. McCarthy and offensive coordinator Tom Clements are renowned for their work with quarterbacks. Given time to watch and learn — and away from the day-to-day pressures of trying to lead a team to victory — Tebow potentially could work through the mechanical flaws that have led to scattershot accuracy and gain the ability to play the game fast both mentally and physically.

"I don't know enough about Tim Tebow but what I do know about him, I would definitely love to coach him," McCarthy said the Scouting Combine in 2010. "I think the guy's a winner, just he way he plays the game. I know a lot's being said about his mechanics. Just the way he approaches the game of football, I think he'll do everything he needs to do to improve. But you look for football players. And his record in college, I think, speaks for itself. But I'd love the opportunity to work with a Tim Tebow."

That said, Tebow just doesn't fit in Green Bay. It would be borderline insane to put together a specialized offensive package for Tebow because that would take the NFL's best quarterback out of the game. And at this point, Tebow just isn't far enough along as a professional quarterback to run the Packers' base offense. Frankly, he's not Matt Flynn, so having Tebow on the roster really would serve no purpose.

Keep Tebow as the third-stringer and let him develop all year, you say?

According to a source, Tebow's cap figure is $3.14 million in 2012, $7.624 million in 2013 and $8.71 million in 2014. That's outrageous money for a backup quarterback — never mind the No. 3.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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