JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As Peyton Manning officially signed with the Denver Broncos, the Tim Tebow saga accelerated.
The Jaguars have had internal discussions about acquiring the former Florida Gators quarterback through a trade, but as of Tuesday afternoon had not formally discussed a trade with the Broncos, a source said. The Jaguars are considered to be one of the more serious candidates to acquire Tebow.
Even before Manning signed his contract, multiple reports said the Broncos had already fielded calls from multiple teams about acquiring Tebow in a trade.
ESPN identified the Jets, Packers and Dolphins as other teams that have discussed Tebow, but did not specify whether that meant internal discussions or conversations with the Broncos. The New York Daily News cited a source declaring the Jets are “players in the Tebow race.”
Tebow wasn’t surprised by Manning’s signing, according to a friend he had dinner with last week. Monica Culpepper, the wife of former Gators lineman Brad Culpepper, spoke about Tebow’s state of mind during a radio interview with WFLA in Tampa.
“In all honesty, Tim said, ‘You know, I miss home, I miss the South, and hopefully I land somewhere in Florida,’” Monica Culpepper told the radio station. “I sure hope Jacksonville takes him.”
The Broncos have tried to informally gauge the Jaguars’ interest in Tebow. Bob Tebow, Tim’s father, would not comment when reached by phone.
The Jaguars passed on Tebow during the 2010 draft, opting to draft defensive tackle Tyson Alualu with the No. 10 overall pick. Tebow was selected 25th. Last season, Jacksonville traded up to acquire quarterback Blaine Gabbert with the No. 10 pick. This month the Jaguars signed Chad Henne to back up Gabbert and paid him a $3 million signing bonus, which seemed to signal the Jaguars weren’t interested in bringing in Tebow.
But the Jaguars new owner Shahid Khan said in a radio interview with WOKV before the Super Bowl that he would have drafted Tebow in 2010 and indicated he would consider bringing in Tebow if he became available.
“I share your sentiment,” Khan said to a caller who said he hoped the Jaguars would consider Tebow. “When is the next time Jacksonville is gonna have an athlete like Tim Tebow?”
Broncos president John Elway said the Broncos’ goal was to find a solution that benefited both Tebow, who finished the 2011 season as the Broncos starter, and the Broncos organization. Elway made his comments on Tuesday during a news conference in Denver.
“The toughest thing about this whole thing is Tim Tebow because of what I think of Tim Tebow,” Elway said. “... Tim Tebow is a great kid. If I want somebody to marry my daughter it’d be him. Where we are as an organization, Tim as a football player. I told you Tim is a great football player. I just think with the opportunity that presented itself here, with the opportunity to have Peyton Manning’s services, we had to take advantage of that.”
Manning said Tebow never came up in his conversations with the Broncos while making his decision to sign there.
“I know what kind of player Tim Tebow is, what kind of person he is and what kind of awesome year he had this year,” Manning said. “If Tim Tebow is here next year I’m going to be the best teammate I can be to him and he and I are going to help this team win games.”