The Eagles reduced their roster to 52 players on Saturday afternoon, and among the surprise cuts was quarterback Tim Tebow. Head coach Chip Kelly spoke to the media on Saturday after the roster reduction, and explained why the former first-round pick was released.
"I think Tim has really progressed," Kelly said, "but we didn’t feel like he was good enough to be the three right now."
Several reports throughout the summer indicated that the Eagles were happy with Tebow's progression and were likely to keep him on the roster. But following the Eagles' final preseason game, that tone appeared to shift. Reports on Saturday suggested that Tebow's place on the team was in danger.
Tebow saved his best performance as an Eagle for last, completing 11 of his 17 passes for 189 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the team's 24-18 loss to the Jets. Still, the former Heisman winner had a rough summer in general, leading the Eagles to ultimately let him go.
"He played well in that [Jets] game, but it’s a compilation of the whole time," Kelly said. "As I said, it wasn’t just one game that was a make-or-break [game] and that if you play well in one game you are here. But he did play really well against the Jets."
Kelly had said in previous interviews that he was impressed with the way Tebow had improved as a passer throughout OTAs and training camp. And as Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer said, Kelly encouraged Tebow to go to the CFL to get game reps, telling Tebow that if he did, the Eagles might consider re-signing him.
Tebow has always had an unorthodox throwing motion, but his ability to keep plays alive with his legs, matched with his seriously impressive touchdowns from Saturday night, led most observers to believe Tebow's spot on the Eagles was secure.
"I think he really improved his throwing motion from when he was throwing a couple of years ago," Kelly said, "He worked extremely hard on it and deserves a lot of credit for that.
"You know, I talked to him a little earlier today when we released him and I think he just needs to get more playing time; he needs to get out there and get actual reps because I think he has done a ton on his own from an individual basis, but it’s about playing the game. It’s taking that next step and now playing the game."
The release of Tebow opens up a spot for a third quarterback. Matt Barkley was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional late-round pick on Friday, leaving only two quarterbacks on the roster. Meanwhile, reports surfaced Saturday that the Eagles are interested in former Vikings and Raiders quarterback Christian Ponder. Kelly said the Eagles will likely bring in another quarterback, be it on the active roster or the practice squad.
"We’re not done," he said. "So, there could be a third quarterback. We’ll look and see what happens with the waiver wire. Whether we add a quarterback to the active roster or to the practice squad, we will have a third quarterback.
"I mean, we need to have a third quarterback in here, but if he is on the practice squad or on the active roster, it really doesn’t make any difference. If someone gets hurt on Saturday, you can switch him out and make [the quarterback] active. It’s not a big deal."
Tebow was his typically classy self when saying goodbye to the Eagles on Twitter. Because the Eagles' roster is at 52 players, there is are no time restrictions on the team bringing the roster up to 53 players.