Would Tim Tebow be willing (or have the mindset) to change positions?

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com
Tebow's tenure in Denver appears to be over. Would he be up for changing positions to prolong his NFL career? (AP)

Now that the Broncos have landed quarterback Peyton Manning, last year's savior, Tim Tebow, is no longer in the organization's plans. This isn't a surprise; despite team executive John Elway announcing in January that Tebow had earned the right to enter training camp as the starter, that all changed when Manning hit free agency.

And now the conversation has turned to where Tebow will end up because he won't be on Denver's roster when the 2012 season begins. We've gone through the list of destinations, both likely and much less so.

But here's the thing: while the Broncos reportedly want to trade Tebow, there isn't much of a market for him. As CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman tweeted Monday, "I'm hearing teams aren't exactly beating down the Broncos' door to trade for Tebow." Not as a quarterback, anyway.

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Which brings us full circle to those conversations from last summer (and the spring before that when Tebow prepared for the NFL Draft), before Tebowmania was fully realized: should Tebow, all 6-3, 236 pounds of him, change positions? Such talk was shelved last season while he helped lead the Broncos to six consecutive wins, the AFC West title and a playoff win over the Steelers. But Manning changes all that.

In August, shortly before the start of the 2011 regular season, we spoke to Hall of Famer and former Denver Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe, now a television analyst for CBS' NFL Today. We asked Sharpe about Tebow's prospects at positions other than quarterback. And essentially, it comes down to this: it's one thing to transition to wide receiver. It's something else entirely to try to play tight end or fullback.

"I'm sure (Buffalo Bills wide receiver) Brad Smith would love to play quarterback in the National Football League but that wasn't in the cards," Sharpe told CBSSports.com at the time. "He comes in to be a wildcat quarterback or occasionally take a snap here or there, but for the most part, he's earned his niche as a return guy and a receiver.

"And he's going to have a nice productive career, make a decent living, and he's going to be able to tell his kids that 'I played in the National Football League.' As opposed to, 'Yeah, I was quarterback and tried to play in the league and it didn't happen.' I think that's a better story -- 'I played 10-12 years in the National Football League' as opposed to saying 'Hey, I was a quarterback who wanted to play in the National Football League.'

We asked Sharpe if Tebow would be better off moving to tight end or H-back.

"It's a mindset," he said without hesitation. "I don't know if he has the mindset for that. I understand that if you play in the National Football League everybody's tough, but there are levels of toughness. And for a quarterback to think he's going to play something else -- especially one of those positions … now a quarterback can move to wide receiver, but to move to a fullback, H-back or tight end, that's a whole different mentality.

"Playing one of those positions is a mindset because you realize, for the most part, that the guy you're going up against is always bigger than you. I was always smaller than any linebacker I blocked, always smaller than any (defensive) end I blocked. But you have to have a mindset that says, 'Okay, I have to get the job done.' So I don't know if he has the mindset to make that transition.

"But who knows. Maybe in (Tebow's) mind it's either quarterback or bust and he says, 'Well, if I can't play quarterback then that's it.'"

We haven't heard from Tebow since Manning hit free agency so it's not clear if he's willing to change positions, or if he's content pursue other options like, say, playing in Canada. Tebow could also choose to forego football altogether; his family has long been active in missionary work in the Philippines.

For now, here's all we know: Manning's in, and after one unforgettable season, Tebow's out. And Sharpe's words from seven months ago still hold true now.

"That's the great part about the National Football League," he said. "It's never based on who you know -- this is a bottom-line business: can you or can't you play? And that's what Tim Tebow is finding out."

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