Montreal Alouettes general manager Jim Popp would welcome Tim Tebow to the CFL so long as the former Heisman Trophy winner was content battling for a job as a backup quarterback.
The New York Jets released Tebow on Monday just a year after acquiring him in a much-publicized trade with the Denver Broncos. The Broncos selected Tebow in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft following a celebrated collegiate career at Florida.
But Tebow’s NFL future remains very much in doubt.
Tebow has been one of the league’s most popular players since his arrival but has drawn constant criticism for his passing mechanics. Many football pundits believe he simply doesn’t have the skillset to play quarterback effectively at the pro level.
If Tebow wants to continue playing quarterback, the CFL could be a potential landing spot as the Alouettes have the former Florida star on their negotiation list. That means if Tebow wanted to come to Canada, Montreal would have exclusive negotiating rights with him.
Veteran quarterback Anthony Calvillo is firmly entrenched as Montreal’s starter, at least for now. The 40-year-old Calvillo is entering his 20th CFL campaign, takes his playing career on a year-to-year basis. That would leave Tebow to battle former Boston College star Quinton Porter, a five-year CFL veteran, for the backup job behind Calvillo.
“If Tim Tebow wants to come to Canada we’d definitely welcome him,” Popp said. “That’s why we have him on our neg list and we’d take a look at him and see if he can play in Canada but it would obviously be competing for a backup job.”
Tebow led the Broncos to the playoffs in 2011, but became the odd man out in Denver when Peyton Manning arrived. The Jets acquired Tebow for a fourth-round draft pick and $1.5-million in salary.
Playing Canadian football would present Tebow with some obvious challenges, given the importance of the passing game on the longer, wider CFL field.
“None of us know if he can really play in Canada either so it would be a project to see what he’s capable of doing,” Popp said. “Tim Tebow has a strong arm.
“You hear about the knocks on his throwing whether it’s accuracy or touch. If you’re going to have success in Canada you’re going to have to be able to throw the ball all over the field.”
But Popp said Tebow’s mobility would be a definite asset in Canada.
“Again, it depends on what you’re asking him to do,” Popp said. “If one day you decide to make him your starter then obviously you’re going to formulate an offence that best suits Tim Tebow.
“I think right now there’s 32 NFL teams that aren’t willing to do that. That doesn’t mean a CFL team wouldn’t in the future. But, again, until you have him and really figure out what he can and can’t do you don’t really know.”
If Tebow decided to continue his football career in Canada, he wouldn’t be the first big-name quarterback to make the trek north. Doug Flutie, Warren Moon and Jeff Garcia all came to ply their trade in the CFL and blossomed into stars here before returning to play in the NFL.
But a CFL team with Tebow would also have to get adjust to his celebrity. The two-time NCAA champion’s No. 15 jersey with Denver ranked second in U.S. sales to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in 2011.
And if Tebow wants to come to Canada — and there’s been no indication that he does — he’s going to have to call Popp.
“Experience tells me not to bother with it for this reason,” Popp said. “This happens a lot with guys who don’t have big names and 99 per cent of them wait another whole year after they’ve been released trying to get back into the NFL before they decide to come up.
“I don’t know what his process is going to be, if any, or if he even has an interest in playing in another league outside the NFL. If they end up having that discussion I’m sure we’ll hear from them and we’ll move from there.”
Popp said Montreal also has former Texas star quarterback Vince Young on its negotiation list and twice Young’s representatives have spoken to the Alouettes. Each time the message has been the same: If Young came to Quebec, it would be as Calvillo’s backup.
“They know we have Anthony, they know if he (Young) comes he’s not starting,” Popp said. “If (Tebow) has a real interest in coming to Canada, he or his representation will call.”