Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars. But he's not going to play quarterback. He's trying to make it work as a tight end.
Tebow, who has not played in the NFL since 2012 and has been out of football entirely since 2014, spent the last several years playing minor league baseball in the New York Mets' system, making it as high as Triple-A before retiring earlier this year. He had a tryout with the Jaguars prior to the draft, and CBS Sports' Jonathan Jones confirmed on Monday that the team will sign him to a one-year deal.
The Jaguars connection to Tebow is obvious, as the team is now coached by Urban Meyer, for whom Tebow played his college football at the University of Florida, winning both the Heisman Trophy and two national championships. Now, though, Tebow will be trying out a position he has never played at the professional level.
It's a transition few former quarterbacks have been able to make. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, we can find only four instances of a player who entered the league as a quarterback, played quarterback, and then switched to another position with any degree of success. (This means players like Antwaan Randle El, Julian Edelman, and more who were quarterbacks in college but then changed positions prior to entering the league do not count.) Only two of those players made the full-time switch; two of them went back to playing quarterback.
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There's former Ohio State and Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who switched over to wide receiver and had one terrific season in 2016 (77 catches, 1,007 yards four touchdowns) but found himself unable to repeat that success. There's current Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas, who began his career as a quarterback with the Arizona Cardinals. He played deep bench roles for the Bills and Lions in 2018 and 2019 before having a breakout 2020 campaign, during which he caught 72 passes for 670 yards and six scores. He figures to open the season as the Football Team's starting tight end, and will look to build on that success.
Then there are two players who became hybrid sorts: former Pittsburgh Steeler Kordell Stewart and current New Orleans Saint Taysom Hill. Stewart got the nickname "Slash" early in his career because he was a quarterback/wide receiver, and he was actually pretty good at it. But eventually he switched back to just QB, and became the Steelers' starter for several seasons, even making a Pro Bowl. Hill has been both a backup quarterback and wide receiver/tight end/special teams ace during his time with the Saints, but he's also going to try to beat out Jameis Winston for the starting QB job this coming season. He'll presumably still contribute at those other spots if he loses out, though.
In other words, while a switch can be made, it's exceedingly rare that it actually works -- and even rarer that it sticks. Tebow, though, does not have all that much in the way of competition in the Jaguars' tight end room. The only other players on the depth chart are Chris Manhertz, James O'Shaughnessy, Ben Ellefson, Tyler Davis, and Luke Farrell. If you haven't heard of those guys, don't worry; they've combined for just 101 catches for 1,016 yards and four touchdowns in their respective careers.
Still, those players are actually tight ends, which Tebow is not. He faces long odds to make it to training camp, let alone earn himself a spot on the roster for the regular season. And even longer odds than that to wind up contributing to the Jaguars on any level.