It appears the working relationship between the New York Jets and Tim Tebow will come to an unceremonious end at the conclusion of the 2012 season. After making the bold move to bring Tebow in to back up Mark Sanchez this year, the Jets have failed in every attempt to use him appropriately (read: at all).
Now, there are very real questions about Tebow's future in the NFL. Is there anywhere he could play quarterback?
In my opinion, there are three places he could fit as a back-up in 2013. And a mutually- beneficial trade could be accomplished with all three potential suitors.
1. San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have a young starting quarterback emerging in the second half of this season in Colin Kaepernick. The problem for the Niners is, like the Jets, they have a lot of money invested in their former starter who they would like to get off their books.
Here's the problem the Niners are facing with Smith: they don't want him helping an NFC rival (specifically Arizona). So trading Smith before his bonus comes due makes a lot more sense than an outright release.
This would likely be the easiest trade to consummate of the three. The Jets would take on Smith's significant financial considerations moving forward (assuming Sanchez is out of New York) in exchange for Tebow backing up Kaepernick. One team loses a cap hit, the other removes a headache.
From San Francisco's perspective, Tebow could actually fit the system they have run so far with Kaepernick. Certainly Tebow doesn't have anywhere close to the arm strength one-time Cubs draft pick Kaepernick has displayed this year, but the Niners have incorporated a number of designed running plays for the quarterback and option looks that could fit Tebow's "skills" appropriately.
The Niners wouldn't need to make overwhelming changes to their play calling if they ever needed to replace Kaepernick with Tebow, making San Francisco a potential fit.
Oh, and the added bonus for the Jets: San Francisco is the opposite side of the country. Out of sight, out of mind.
2. Washington Redskins
Like San Francisco, Washington has a young quarterback that likes to run. RGIII is a special athlete, and the Shanahan boys have designed an offense that fits his ability to throw and run perfectly.
Similar to Kaepernick, there is no way Tebow's arm could compete with RGIII's. But from a scheme perspective, the designed running plays and option looks that the Redskins have willingly incorporated this year would allow Tebow to run some of their core offense without asking the other 10 players around the quarterback to make a lot of changes if RGIII wasn't available.
While this fit makes sense from a schematic perspective, making the deal would be a little harder.
The player the Jets would unquestionably be targeting in a trade with the 'Skins would be the other rookie in Washington, Kirk Cousins. He's young, and, as a mid-round pick, would be significantly more affordable than Smith. However, the cost of Cousins would allow the new coaching staff (and front office?) with the Jets to potentially keep Sanchez for another year and let him compete with Cousins for the starting job in 2013; they wouldn't be able to financially keep both Smith and Sanchez on the same roster.
New York would likely need to include draft picks for Washington to consider moving Cousins after only one year in the NFL, but the Jets might consider that a necessity this offseason because of their apparent (and justified) lack of faith in Sanchez.
3. Seattle Seahawks
The script for a deal to Seattle would be similar to the previous two: young, athletic quarterback who is allowed to call his own number. Pete Carroll's offense has allowed Russell Wilson the ability to make plays with his legs and, especially over the last couple weeks, he's made big plays running the ball himself.
Again, Tebow's arm will never compete with another former MLB pick in Wilson. But the design of the offense in Seattle would allow for a player with Tebow's "skills" to work as a back-up.
You'll also note that all three of these teams have one other piece in common: a strong running game. Frank Gore, Alfred Morris (another rookie in Washington) and Marshawn Lynch are all solid backs that just need the ball handed to them 25-30 times each week. That, too, allows these teams to consider Tebow.
But for Seattle, the consideration might be harder for the Jets. The Seahawks have their own albatross on the roster - Matt Flynn - who they would undoubtedly love to get off their roster. But bringing in Flynn as a potential starter would require a complete overhaul of the players surrounding the quarterback in New York; he was paid to start in Seattle and lost the job to Wilson, who was an undersized mid-round pick.
The Jets would need to move Sanchez and come up with an affordable back-up if they traded Tebow for Flynn. While Seattle might be willing to include a draft pick or two to offset the financial considerations of the deal, the Jets would walk away from a trade with the Seahawks with almost as many questions as they would have answers.
The system might work (in theory), and the situation might be right, but making the deal work might not be best for either party in this third scenario.
Is Tim Tebow an NFL-caliber quarterback? Probably not. But he's won as many playoff games as Tony Romo and not many in the game have questioned his heart. If a team is willing to pay him, and the system would work with his limited skills, the Jets would be thrilled to get anything back for him.