It’s been just over a month since the Jacksonville Jaguars signed former quarterback Tim Tebow to the tight end position. Despite the standard circus and hoopla that comes with Tebow’s name at the initial signing, things since have been relatively quiet.
Tebow’s name has drawn attention but hasn’t turned the Jaguars offseason programs into a frenzy as was feared and expected. He quietly worked through OTA’s and minicamp, learning his new position from the bottom of the depth chart.
Now with a month till training camp begins, attention is turning back to Tebow as the Jaguars must weigh and determine his future.
Speaking with Mackenzie Salmon of USA Today Sports, Head Coach Urban Meyer admitted he’s heading into training camp—and subsequently roster cuts—not with the mindset of “will Tebow make the roster” but more so, having to cut nearly nearly half the roster.
“[That’s] the tough part, is 53, you know, and that's new to me, that's the reality of the NFL, that you have 90 players. So to me, he's one of 90,” Meyer explained.
Tebow played quarterback for Meyer at the University of Florida, winning a Heisman and the duo bringing two National Championships back to Gainesville. They’ve remained extremely close over the years, and even now live in the same Jacksonville neighborhood. Tebow was often a special guest at Ohio State when Meyer was the football coach for the Buckeyes.
As such, it always appeared to be a risk for Meyer to sign someone with whom he had such a close personal relationship. It would raise questions as to special treatment and possibly create an impossible situation if Meyer did in fact have to cut Tebow when it came time to trim the roster. If the latter does arise though, Meyer promises he’s going to view the situation the same for both his former player and the nearly 40 other guys he’ll be forced to bid adieu.
“[Tebow’s] a guy that's, you know, what's the difference between him and the other 40 guys trying to make the team? To me it's all the same. This is their livelihood. This is a job, this is a way to make a living, and reality is that, you know, a good percentage of your roster is going to get cut or transitioned out of here.”
The act of slashing a roster is foreign to Meyer, who has always coached in college. At that level, teams can carry on average 85 scholarship players and anywhere from 95-115 total. Redshirts and grey-shirts and backdoor policies allow for coaches to structure their roster as needed. Having to release 37 men in the span of a few weeks will take some adjusting.
“To me that that's completely new; in college you got 85, 95 guys and you fit them in and you put the puzzle together. Much different here.”
Whether or not Tebow will survive roster cuts is yet to be seen. Asked about the new tight ends progress during OTA’s, Meyer had only this to say.
“Tim has done a decent job. We all know this is a new position for him. You wish you could see and do [more]. In spring football, you have full pads and scrimmages, and you can really evaluate, but it’s kind of tough right now. But he’s a great teammate. In the locker room, I can see everybody getting along, we have a good chemistry on our team. But he’s picked it up decently.”
Training camp begins on July 27 and the first round of roster cuts for the Jaguars—and league wide—will come on August 17, when teams must cut down to 85 players. Teams must sit at 53 players by August 31, two weeks before the start of the 2021 season.