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Who'd be interested in Tim Tebow if the Broncos land Peyton Manning?

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com
If the Broncos part ways with Tim Tebow where might he end up? (US PRESSWIRE)

When Broncos executive John Elway announced on January 16 that "Tim (Tebow) has earned the right to be the starting quarterback going into training camp next year," many people (including us) didn't believe him. Yes, in theory, Tim Tebow had probably accomplished enough in the previous three months (a six-game winning streak, the AFC West title, a playoff win over the Steelers) to be the team's No. 1 quarterback. But the reality remained: the Broncos were running a college offense and Tebow was still an erratic passer with a limited understanding of NFL defenses.

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Despite Elway's proclamation, everyone assumed that if a better option came along the organization would give it serious consideration. And then Peyton Manning happened and the Broncos -- along with several other quarterback-needy teams -- didn't try to hide the fact that they really wanted him. If Manning ends up in Denver (update: Peyton's a Bronco), Elway will have to decide if Tebow's future is as a conventional drop-back passer, and if it's not, they'll likely thank him for his service and send him on his way.

We've written plenty about the possible landing spots for Manning but what happens to Tebow should he get released? Where will he end up? Glad you asked.

Below are a list of teams, from most likely to least likely, that could have interest in Tebow in one form or another. (To be clear: we're speculating here. There very well could be little or no market for Tebow's services or, you know, Manning could sign elsewhere leaving Tebow as the Broncos' starter until Elway finds somebody else.)

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

General manager Gene Smith may have no desire to sign Tebow (he didn't draft him in 2010 and apparently doesn't want him now, either), but new Jags owner Shahid Khan is the guy writing the checks. And based on his comments last month, he sounds like he'd at least give the former Florida star consideration. "One-hundred percent I would have [drafted Tebow]," Khan said in February. "Absolutely ... Obviously the Rams drafted Sam Bradford, and I was talking to (former owner) Wayne (Weaver) then on what they ought to do. … I don't want to get into 20/20 hindsight, and God help us, the draft record has not been the best with the Jaguars."

Jacksonville just signed Chad Henne to a two-year deal, and he and 2011 first-rounder Blaine Gabbert will be the team's top two quarterbacks. Unless new head coach Mike Mularkey has plans to create a package of plays for Tebow (hey, Mularkey had some success using Kordell Stewart in a similar role during the 2001 season in Pittsburgh), the Jags aren't likely candidates to acquire him.

2. Miami Dolphins

Depending on how things go with Matt Flynn (and they appear to be going well update: they went poorly ... but there's still Alex Smith!), Tebow could be next on Miami's radar. He's from Florida, wildly popular, and it's not like at that point the Dolphins would have a lot of options. Most of the available second-tier free-agent quarterbacks have signed elsewhere (Henne, Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell) and Miami's draft position (No. 8) could make them a pick or three too late for Ryan Tannehill. Which means that they'll either have to trade up to get Tannehill (and give up much-needed picks in the process) or settle on one of the few available options: Tebow.

3. New England Patriots

We list the Pats for two reasons. One, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was the Broncos' head coach when Denver traded up in the first round to take Tebow in 2010. Two, Bill Belichick seems like he appreciates Tebow, the football player, and would welcome the challenge of making him better. Obviously, not in the "He's the next Tom Brady!" sense, but more in the "He's a bigger Julian Edelman!" sense.

4. Philadelphia Eagles

Head coach Andy Reid loves to collect quarterbacks. We were talking to friend of the blog, PFT's Michael David Smith about this and he said he wouldn't be surprised if Reid put Tebow on the field just enough for him to look serviceable and then unloaded him on a team desperate for a quarterback. He's done it previously with Kevin Kolb, Donovan McNabb and A.J. Feeley. Those three players have yielded three second-round picks and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Anyway you look at it, the Cards, Skins and Fins got fleeced.

In Philly, Tebow would likely be the third quarterback behind Michael Vick and Mike Kafka but we'd take him over Vince Young. (Damning with faint praise, we know. But still.)

5. Buffalo Bills

We took a stroll in the Google Machines back to the spring of 2010 to see where the mock-draft cognoscenti had Tebow going in the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft. One name that kept popping up: the Bills. Head coach Chan Gailey had also served as Kordell Stewart's offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh so he has experience with non-traditional quarterbacks. Tebow also had Jim Kelly's seal of approval, which meant so much that the Bills ended up taking C.J. Spiller with the ninth-overall pick. Another reason Buffalo might take a pass: they already have their jack-of-all-trades offensive weapon: Brad Smith.

6. Minnesota Vikings

Here's what SI.com's Don Banks wrote a week before the 2010 draft:

"Anyone else thinking what I'm thinking, that the Vikings' signing of veteran cornerback Lito Sheppard on Wednesday will be the final impetus to not go for a corner in the first round and turn their attention to the future of the quarterback position? Don't discount that the Vikings might like Texas's Colt McCoy more than Tebow here, especially with the success that the 'short' Drew Brees had against them last January."

Thanks to the Broncos trading up, Tebow was already off the board. Would Minnesota have taken him had he been there? Well, with McCoy and Jimmy Clausen all still on the board, the Vikings decided to trade out of the first round altogether. They picked up the Lions' second- and fourth-rounder instead and took cornerback Chris Cook and defensive end Everson Griffen. They also drafted Joe Webb in the sixth round who, along with 2011 first-rounder Christian Ponder give Minnesota plenty of mobile quarterbacks. Again, this seems like a long shot.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

Very, very unlikely, yes, but no more so than the speculation that the Steelers would sign Tiki Barber or hire Jim Caldwell because head coach Mike Tomlin had prior relationships with both. Pittsburgh won't re-sign third-string quarterback Dennis Dixon and Tebow is basically a bigger version of the same player. Added bonus: he can give the team another power back in goal-line situations and in his spare time help keep Ben Roethlisberger on the straight and narrow.

Of course, all of this assumes that the Broncos land Manning and that they subsequently dump Tebow (update: that's the plan). While we wait for that drama to play out Feel free to post other possible Tebow scenarios in the comments.

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