GREEN BAY – While it may not lead to anything, and teams with more fervent interest may act more quickly than methodical Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson, an NFL source said Tuesday night that the Packers are legitimately interested in Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow and are doing their due diligence on him after the Broncos made it known that they plan to trade the former starter.
Tebow became expendable Tuesday when the Broncos introduced their new quarterback, four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning, who was released by the Indianapolis Colts after 14 seasons as the face of that franchise.
Two years after both Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy spoke glowingly of the former University of Florida star and Heisman Trophy winner in advance of the 2010 NFL Draft, the source said the team’s interest is piqued by Tebow, who took over as the starter for the 1-4 Broncos and led them to the AFC West title and an AFC Wild Card playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The source would not say if the Packers and Broncos have had any trade discussions. Given Thompson’s nature, the Packers are likely to take a wait-and-see approach, see what the Broncos’ asking price is for Tebow and wait to see if it drops. Thompson could add as many as four compensatory selections for last year’s free-agent losses next week at the annual NFL Meetings, which while they cannot be traded would give Thompson the ability to use one of his own low-round picks to acquire Tebow.
The Packers might also wait in hopes that the Broncos cut Tebow, but that seems unlikely given the number of teams reportedly interested in him. ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen listed four teams – the Jaguars, the New York Jets, the Miami Dolphins and the Packers – as teams that were interested in Tebow.
Tebow’s rookie contract calls for him to make a very reasonable $1.1 million in 2012. But his 2013 ($6.055 million) and 2014 ($7.145 million) base salaries aren’t in line with backup quarterback pay, meaning a team may find his contract too pricey to take on via a trade.
Tebow reportedly has told friends that he hopes to be traded to one of the NFL teams in Florida, and the Jacksonville Jaguars have “serious interest” in trading for him, according to NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi. New Jaguars owner Shad Kahn apparently is highly motivated to bring in Tebow, who remains wildly popular in Florida.
While the Packers have reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback, they lost backup Matt Flynn to the Seattle Seahawks in free agency, leaving Graham Harrell and ex-Arena League player Nick Hill as the only other quarterbacks on the roster.
Adding Tebow as a backup and situational player would give the Packers already potent offense another dimension, even if McCarthy might be reluctant to take Rodgers off the field to use a Wildcat-style formation. The Packers ran one play out of the Wildcat last year, with wide receiver Randall Cobb taking a direct snap against Kansas City.
Then again, the Packers interest in Tebow could go nowhere. In 2009, the Packers had similar interest in Michael Vick after he was released from prison, and did their due diligence on him while contemplating whether to sign him. In the end, Vick went to the Philadelphia Eagles.
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