Obviously, it’s not apples to apples. Newton started 15 games for New England last season, while Tebow, fresh off a five-year run playing professional baseball in the New York Mets system, was trying to latch on with Jacksonville as a tight end after not appearing in the NFL since 2012. Newton also is far more accomplished at the NFL level, whereas Tebow’s football success occurred primarily in college.
But both are free agents, both have unique playing styles and both are lightning rods for media attention. So, Tebow’s take on Newton’s future in wake of Mac Jones winning the Patriots’ QB competition definitely is worth noting.
“I think when it comes to Cam and his future, I think Cam can still play in the NFL,” Tebow said Friday on ESPN’s “First Take” shortly after Newton released a sitdown interview discussing his Patriots departure. “I think Cam still has the talent. I think it’s going to take someone with a strong personality to say, ‘We know Cam is unique. We know that he’s got a loud personality. But we also believe in the system and the way he can fit into the right system.’ I don’t think there’s a lot of people who will take a chance, but I do believe there’s a couple of people — maybe because of injuries, maybe because of lack of performance out of their QB position — who are gonna give Cam a chance.”
So far, there hasn’t been much out there regarding Newton’s future, aside from some speculation based on potential fit and whether he has anything left in the tank. The stars might need to align perfectly for Newton to receive another NFL opportunity, let alone perform at a Pro Bowl-caliber level.
Tebow has faith in Newton’s ability, though, explaining Friday that whichever team signs him should tailor its offense to fit his style. Otherwise, it could be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, which essentially is what the Patriots tried to do last season while replacing Tom Brady.
“You also have to fit the system to (Newton’s) skill set, which I think his skill set is still a really good skill set — of athleticism, of better passing than a lot of people give him credit for, and he’s still a freak athlete,” Tebow said. “And so when you give him the right system around him and the nourishment and the encouragement of who he is and let him be Cam, which isn’t necessarily like a lot of other guys … Cam can’t be something different, he’s got to be who he is. And when you bring that out — like when he was at Auburn, like when he was with the Carolina Panthers certain times — that’s when he has a chance to really flourish. If you try to bottle that up, if you try to harness it, if you try to make him quiet and not talk and not hype stuff up and not rap and all this, you’re also taking away part of his juice, right?
“I’m also someone that I played a little bit unique, and played with certain passion and emotion, so I get it. I didn’t wanna really be bottled up, and I don’t think Cam should, either. If he finds a right fit, I think he still has a chance to succeed, because he is a uniquely gifted athlete and he’s a uniquely gifted person if supported and put in the right situation.”
Newton’s best bet right now might be to wait. There clearly aren’t any starting QB jobs open right now, but depth charts could change in the coming weeks as certain developments across the league unfold.
“Listen, there’s a lot of teams that don’t really have a chance this year,” Tebow said. “So if one of those teams was smart, they’d say, ‘You know what? Let’s build around this guy. Let’s be able to adjust and have a unique system and see if we put the right pieces around him, could he flourish this year?’
“Maybe it’s after one team is 1-4 or 1-5, and they say, ‘You know what? This isn’t going the right way. We kinda suck right now. And so we could bring in Cam, we’ve got some other pieces and we could make it work.’ That’s where I see someone possibly taking a chance.”
Maybe the two could join forces somewhere. On-field results aside, it sure would move the needle, right?