I guess this post may become irrelevant in the coming months as none of us have a clue as to what exactly is going on at Dove Valley, made even less clear by the number of unnamed sources flying around (thanks primarily to Mike Florio and Vic Lombardi, those paragons of reliable news). However, contrary to ‘reports’, logically it makes sense to keep Tim Tebow around, whatever happens with the Peyton Manning saga, at the very least for the 2012 season.
Whilst I am generally treating John Elway's statements with slight suspicion these days, I think they’ve been mostly honest with what they’ve said about Tim. Do they want him to be the guy? Of course, they want him to become that person, given that it would cost them nothing if he did. Do they hope he can become a pocket passer? Naturally. However, I doubt they think that now is that time and, whilst they anointed him the TC starter only a few weeks ago, the Manning situation is unique enough for it to be an extenuating circumstance. Whichever way you cut it, TT still needs time, regardless of whether that be on the field or on the sidelines.
In the chase for Manning, EFX have to take into account the probabilities regarding his longevity:
Worst case scenario - Manning cannot throw effectively in Minicamps, gets PUPed; OR gets knocked out during 2012 season.
Most likely scenario – Manning plays for 2-3 years, before he decides to retire OR his play falls off a cliff (which is common for older QBs, especially considering his enforced sabbatical). He either ends up on the bench, or gets cut and bounces around à la Jeff Garcia/Drew Bledsoe/Vinny Testaverde/Mark Brunell.
‘Best Case’ Scenario – Manning plays at a high level for 4-5 years, beyond the length of Tim’s contract.
Whichever way you cut it, if PM signs, it would be prudent to keep Tebow at the very least until they’ve seen how much progress the guy has made (say, at minicamp), as well as how far along Manning is in his recovery. After all, Elway has repeatedly stated the value of progression throughout Tebowmania, and if he has shown a requisite amount of improvement in anticipation, accuracy, footwork, etc., then it’s a sign that he may just be able to become *that* guy.
On top of this, we have to consider the worst case scenario – if Tebow is let go, who will step in? Our 2nd year UDFA? No competent FA QBs are going to sign to back up Manning (and let’s face it, the top names such as Chad Henne are barely competent), and if we were to draft a rookie in the top 3 rounds, a) it’s a bit of a wasted pick given the number of holes on the team, and b) I would much rather have Tebow start than a rookie in the event that Manning cannot go. So, at least in my mind, it’s essential that we keep Tebow at least for 2012. If we receive a can’t-refuse trade offer, then so be it, but I really doubt they will.
Tebow is signed until the end of the 2014 season, and is scheduled to make around $1m in base salary in each of those years, so financially it makes a lot of sense; you can also bet that the coaches and Elway will be keeping a close eye on his progress in that time.
In the event of this, things could get really interesting around the 2014 season if a) Timmy has improved sufficiently, and b) if Manning’s physical skills are declining enough for there to be a serious QB competition in camp. Moreover, I’d look towards the Broncos drafting a 2nd/3rd round QB (similar to the Brian Brohm/Aaron Rodgers situation in GB) at this time in preparation for Tebow leaving in FA if he doesn’t unseat Manning (and to be groomed to take over), or to push Tim if he does win the job.
Yes, it’s all pure speculation, but the main message is that keeping Tebow gives the team so many options. There are two main issues with this: firstly, the Tebowner Fanatic Army; secondly, Tebow himself. If anyone can quell the Tebowmania, Peyton can; in this case, I don’t believe that it’d be a problem to keep Tim on the bench as no fan can argue that Tebow is the better player at this point. Moreover, the whole hysteria surrounding the guy may stagnate given 1-2 years of relative inactivity. Addressing the issue of Tebow himself, the guy is a consummate professional. Yeah, he may be rattled right now and has every right to be, but the guy knows he’s not good enough yet, and he truly has the drive and desire to be the best. Almost every player in the NFL will state this, but few actually prove it. Manning is one of them, and Tebow is one of the few others. And you can bet that nothing will motivate him more than having the task of unseating one of the best.
To conclude, I realise that my post could well be redundant in a couple of days, or whatever. But picking up the pieces of this recent news, logically, this makes the most sense to me, and maybe it does to the FO (who are vastly more knowledgeable than I am). There has been a lot of unfairness – yes, I think the FO has been unfair to Tim, although the circumstances are extraordinary.
I think a lot of fans have been unfair to EFX (conspiracies vs Tebow, wanting to unload Tebowmania, constantly trying to undermine him) when they want what’s best for the team, and have publicly acquiesced that Tebow has the potential to be their guy down the line. In my gut, I think Tebow has a really bright future with this team. I have thought, wishfully, that that time would come now, but I think that it would be rather more realistic two years down the line. Ultimately, it’s all about winning, but winning with Tim in the long-term would be a little sweeter.
Critique is welcome, and I look forward to defending my post.