Tim Tebow could still be in Jaguars plans at tight end
Urban Meyer: If Tebow or Travis Etienne can help us win, then that's my job to get them ready to play
At 33, Florida Gators legend Tim Tebow is considered to be past his prime by NFL standards.
He has not been on an NFL roster since 2015, when he failed to make the Philadelphia Eagles' final 53-man for the regular season.
Yet, there is legitimacy that Tebow is considering an NFL comeback.
And the Jaguars are seriously weighing their option of possibly giving him a shot to compete for a roster spot as a tight end.
''That decision is certainly not made yet,'' Meyer said after Saturday's draft.
But both Meyer and general manager Trent Baalke is still considering the option of adding Tebow after he recently worked out for the franchise. During this weekend's NFL Draft, both Meyer and Baalke confirmed that the workout did indeed happen.
Meyer said he only caught a glimpse of it, though.
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''He worked out with our tight ends coach,'' Meyer said. ''I stopped by, did not stay for the whole workout. We're going to revisit here in the near future. That's how it all happened."
Asked Sunday if he feels giving Tebow a shot back into the NFL was based solely on their friendship and admiration for each other, Meyer offered a quick reply.
''I have one job and that is to win games with the Jacksonville Jaguars,'' he said. ''If Tebow or Travis Etienne can help us win, then that's my job to get them ready to play.''
Tebow's college success didn't carry over to NFL
Tebow is beloved on the First Coast because of his wholesome, clean-cut image and charitable efforts through his foundation. A Heisman Trophy winner in 2007, Tebow played quarterback at Florida under Meyer from 2006 through 2009 and helped the Gators win two national championships.
Since Meyer came out of a two-year retirement to take the Jaguars job in January, there has been speculation that Tebow would join the franchise in some capacity. Meyer's obvious admiration for Tebow is deep. Meyer and his wife have reportedly purchased a home in Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club that's on the same street as Tebow's home.
Tebow didn't have the success in the NFL that he enjoyed in college.
He was selected by the Denver Broncos with the 25th pick of the 2010 NFL Draft but played just three years in the NFL — two with the Broncos, one with the New York Jets. He played 12 games, including two starts, with the New York Jets before was released in 2012.
After he left Florida, many general managers and scouts suggested he switch to tight end, but Tebow said playing quarterback was his only option.
''Tim and I’ve talked about, when he was a quarterback in the NFL that was a big topic,'' Meyer said. ''I was so busy I didn’t give him the time. ‘What do you think? What do you think?’ and I didn’t know, I was too busy to even think it through. I know playing a position in the National Football League without — that’s a long shot, this is years ago. How did it happen this time? We had a conversation.''
Tebow tried to return to the NFL in 2013 but was released by the New England Patriots in 2013 during training camp, and he failed to make the Philadelphia Eagles' 53-man regular-season roster in 2015 towards the end of their camp.
Tebow then made a career switch in 2016 to play professional baseball with the New York Mets organization. It was the first time since his junior year of high school that he played baseball. He made it to Triple-A, the highest minor level, but he announced his retirement in February after five seasons.
Now, Tebow's objective now could be to prove he could stick playing as a tight end for his hometown NFL team. It could give the Jaguars another megastar to promote like what's ahead for newly minted franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
"You’re always looking at every avenue you can to improve the football team,'' Baalke said. You have the draft, you have trades, you have free agency, you have cut downs. There’s a lot of different ways, and we’re monitoring every situation we can to see if we can improve the football team.”
After NFL Draft, Jaguars still need a tight end
Despite coming away with nine players in the draft, the Jaguars didn't address one of their biggest needs. They were unable to get a pass-catching tight end, but they did select former Ohio State tight end Luke Farrell in the fifth round.
Farrell, who played two seasons for Meyer at Ohio State, was primarily a blocker and special teams player. He had 34 catches for 380 yards in four seasons with the Buckeyes.
"There's some great quality, quantity wasn't there in the draft this year, and that's a concern right now,'' Meyer said. ''The tight end position — you’re staring at that board and that horizontal piece. We just didn’t hit that today.”
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In free agency, Jacksonville signed former Carolina Panthers tight end Chris Manhertz to a two-year, $7.25 million deal. Manhertz has only 12 career catches, but his strength is run blocking. The Jaguars also re-signed James O'Shaughnessy.
Last season the Jaguars tight ends combined for just two touchdowns, both to Tyler Eifert. In 2019, only O'Shaughnessy (2) and Nick O'Leary (1) caught TD passes.
The Jaguars declined Eifert's 2021 option forcing him to become a free agent, and they parted ways with 2019 third-round pick Josh Oliver by trading him to the Baltimore Ravens. Often injured, Oliver played just four games with just three catches for 15 yards and no touchdowns before his departure.
With winning paramount, especially after coming a 1-15 record in 2020 under former coach Doug Marrone, the Jaguars could explore a trade option to find a veteran pass-catching tight end.
''Filling that room is going to be an ongoing process, just like it is at every room,'' Baalke said. "We’re going to try to make each room as competitive as we can. We feel we made great strides in doing that this weekend, but we’re far from finished.”