Jaguars release Tebow, ending TE comeback bid

  • Covered University of Florida for 13 seasons for ESPN.com and Florida Times-Union
  • Graduate of Jacksonville University
  • Multiple APSE award winner

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Tim Tebow’s attempt to return to the NFL as a tight end after years of playing quarterback is over. The Jacksonville Jaguars released the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tuesday as part of the first round of roster cuts.

Tebow posted a message on Twitter shortly after he was released in which he thanked the Jaguars for giving him a chance. “Thankful for the highs and even the lows, the opportunities, and the setbacks,” Tebow wrote. “I’ve never wanted to make decisions out of fear of failure and I’m grateful for the chance to have pursued a dream.

“Thank you to the Jaguars organization and everyone who has supported me in this journey. And we know that … God works all things together for good. Romans 8:28.”

Tebow signed a one-year contract with the Jaguars on May 20 as a tight end. He didn’t look out of place throughout the spring and the first three days of training camp, but his lack of experience blocking was obvious when the pads went on.

Tebow played 16 snaps and was targeted once in the Jaguars’ 23-13 loss to Cleveland last Saturday night. He was the only tight end that did not play a special teams snap.

In addition to Tebow, the Jaguars also waived cornerback D.J. Daniel and waived/injured receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, receiver Tim Ross, and defensive tackle Daniel Ross.

Tebow hadn’t played football since the 2015 NFL preseason and has spent the past six years working as a broadcaster on the SEC Network and working on his professional baseball career.

Tebow was adamant about remaining a quarterback during his three seasons with the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles but apparently had had a change of heart when Urban Meyer, his former coach at Florida, started running the Jaguars franchise.

Tebow grew up in Jacksonville and starred at Nease High School before signing with Meyer and Florida in December 2005. Chris Leak was the starting quarterback in 2006, but Tebow got plenty of action as a short-yardage specialist and threw 33 passes to help the Gators win the national championship.

Tebow became the starter in 2007, and he threw for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns and ran for 895 yards and 23 touchdowns to become the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. He led the Gators to the 2008 national championship, and UF went undefeated in the regular season in 2009 before losing to Alabama in the SEC championship game.

Tebow finished at UF as the SEC’s career leader in rushing touchdowns (57), touchdown responsibility (145) and passer efficiency (170.8). He still holds the first two records but has since been passed by Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow and Mac Jones in the last category.

Then-Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver called Tebow an iconic figure in September 2009 as Tebow was beginning his final season at UF. There was a push among some in Jacksonville for the Jaguars to draft Tebow, but the Jaguars took defensive tackle Tyson Alualu 10th overall in the 2010 draft.

Denver drafted Tebow 25th overall in 2010; he started only three games that season but started both playoff games in the 2011 postseason. He connected with Demaryius Thomas on an 80-yard catch-and-run touchdown in overtime to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in a wild-card playoff game but completed only 9 of 26 passes for 132 yards the next week in a 45-10 loss to New England.

Tebow went 7-4 as a starter with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions with the Broncos in 2011, but Denver signed Peyton Manning in the offseason. A league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Broncos gave Tebow the option to be traded to the Jets or Jaguars and that Tebow chose the Jets.

The Jets used Tebow mainly on special teams. He was cut the following April and signed with New England. He was released during the final cuts after training camp. He signed with Philadelphia in April 2015 and played in all four preseason games before being released in the final cuts.

Although he hadn’t played baseball since his senior year of high school in 2005, Tebow announced in August 2016 that he was going to attempt to play professional baseball. The New York Mets signed him to a minor league deal, and he spent the next four seasons moving up from the instructional league to Triple-A.

He announced his retirement from professional baseball in February and finished his career with a .222 average with 18 home runs and 109 RBIs in 306 games.

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