John Elway has already demonstrated, through his pursuit of Peyton Manning, that he wasn’t being completely candid when he declared that Tim Tebow had earned the right to enter training camp as the Broncos’ starter. But even if the Broncos fail to secure Manning’s services, that doesn’t mean Tebow’s position as the Broncos’ starter is safe.
In fact, as Mike Klis of the Denver Post points out, if Manning picks the Titans or 49ers, and Matt Hasselbeck or Alex Smith becomes the odd man out, it’s entirely possible that Hasselbeck or Smith would then become the Broncos’ next targets.
The problem is that most free agent quarterbacks aren’t going to want to step into a situation where they’re viewed by the Tebowmaniacs in Denver as the guy who was brought in to push Tebow out. Florio has heard that the Broncos looked into the possibility of signing Matt Flynn during tampering season, but Flynn wanted nothing to do with the no-win situation that is replacing Tebow in Denver, or competing with him in training camp.
Hasselbeck or Smith, however, may find themselves without any better option if Manning chooses the Titans or 49ers. The chance to start in Denver is better than no chance to start anywhere.
Klis suggests that the Broncos also could decide to draft Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, in another effort to find someone who could push Tebow aside. Drafting the 28-year-old Weeden is a move that a team would make if it thinks Weeden can start right away, and the Broncos may think Weeden is better than Tebow right now.
It sounds harsh to suggest that the Broncos would be so intent on replacing Tebow, after a season in which he was a big reason they went from 1-4 to the playoffs, and a big reason they won their first playoff game since 2005. But Elway inherited Tebow from the previous regime in Denver, and John Fox didn’t even want to start Tebow over Kyle Orton until the team’s 1-4 start forced his hand. Fox has already said he wants to have two new quarterbacks who can compete with Tebow, and the reality is that after Tebow completed only 46.5 percent of his passes last year, it’s reasonable for the Broncos to think they can get a better passer.
So it shouldn’t be a huge surprise if Tebow is not the Broncos’ starter this year. Even if they don’t get Manning.