With the Josh McDaniels Era over in Denver before it could be begin, he moved out with many pieces of his hand-picked furniture still in their place. The most glaring example of this would be last year’s 1st round pick, Florida QB Tim Tebow. Heading into the draft, the knocks on Tim were his inconsistent accuracy and his long-developing throwing motion. McDaniels was convinced he could eventually build his offense around Tim and traded their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks to the Ravens to move up to 25th overall and take the lefty.
Now that Tebow’s biggest proponent is out of the picture, there has been rampant speculation that Tebow will be out of Denver by next season. After having read that, my heart sank. Is there a chance the Bills would be willing to take a chance on Tebow?
Let’s look at the evidence. Jim Kelly made it very clear the weeks leading up to the draft that he was a big fan of Tim. His wife Jill leaked that Tim and Jim (possible sitcom?) had dinner together, from which Kelly sounded to be very impressed after. Days before the draft, rumors began pouring out that the Bills were trying to position themselves to make a move for him. Wes Bunting of National Football Post had said that he heard the Bills were going to be trading up with the Jets at 29 to take the former Gator. Michael Lombardi, Peter King, and Adam Shefter were also hearing that the Bills were interested. Not to mention, he also visited with the team back in March. Suddenly it seemed almost apparent that the Bills would be taking Tebow.
After the 1st day of the draft concluded itself, Ralph Wilson made national headlines by saying that “Denver panicked” in giving up all of those draft choices and that “He’s a good player, but we had no interest in taking Tebow. We were not moving up to take Tebow.” GM Buddy Nix went on to say: “I love Tim Tebow. We spent a lot of time with him, and he’s a great kid. And he’s gonna do well. But he was never in our plans. And we never intended to move up and take him.” He did admit that they were trying to move up into the bottom of the first round, but it was not for Tebow, but for another player that had been selected already. While the name of that unknown player was never released, my guess, along with Pro Football Talk’s Gregg Rosenthall, was that the Bills were trying to move up to take NT Dan Williams.
While the quotes are pretty self-explanatory, the NFL Draft is full of mind games and is as much of a chess match as the games themselves. Most personnel guys will rarely show their hands or let the world know what they were thinking. That being said, Buddy and Chan both have reputations as being straight shooters. Either the rebuilding Bills weren’t willing to trade away as much as the Broncos were for him or they honestly had zero intention of ever taking Tebow. The media pundits may have heard that the Bills were trying to move up and that they liked Tebow, combined the two stories into one, and just created this elaborate story.
For those wondering, according to Rotoworld.com, his contract is a 5-year deal, worth $9.75 million. $8.7 million of it is guaranteed with $23.25 million available through incentives, even though $9 million are considered “not likely to be earned” bonuses. While I’m not a capologist, the way I’ve always understood it is “not likely to be earned” means that they will not hit the cap the year they are slated for. If he hits the performance benchmarks that season, they will be applied towards the next year’s salary cap figure. “Likely to be earned” bonuses work the opposite. If he fails to reach the performance benchmarks, the following year’s cap will be adjusted by that amount. As a closing point, I’m not sure of the last time I heard that the reported figure of the contract is 89.2% is guaranteed. That’s pretty impressive for a guy that most view as a project.
I think Tebow’s stock as being pretty similar to where it was before the draft. It’s just that any team wanting to trade for him (once they can begin trading again) just got a ton of leverage if Bowlen’s 3rd coach on the balance sheet is not a Tebow backer. I have a feeling it might end up being a bargain blowout sale. If the Bills have the option of getting him for a 4th round pick, would Nix pull the trigger? We’ll have to hold our breath. Well, not really, but it’s something to monitor.
UPDATE (in case someone besides the author looks at early December posts): Well, so much for my theory that Tebow would be shipped off for collectible stamps. Tebow’s value has sky-rocketed since taking over as the starting QB. While I’m still not a believer and the Broncos next coach may not be either, any QB that has proven he can throw for more than 300 yards in a game would fetch a lot more than a 4th. I’d still be surprised if they could get more than a 2nd round pick for him despite the ransom they sent to Baltimore.