New England Patriots release QB Cam Newton, rookie Mac Jones to start

The New England Patriots made a shocking move during Tuesday’s final roster cuts, releasing veteran quarterback Cam Newton to give rookie first-round pick Mac Jones the starting job.

Jim McBride of The Boston Globe broke the news of Newton’s release, as head coach Bill Belichick is rolling with Jones under center:

Jones was the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Alabama. Coming from the powerhouse program where he was surrounded by elite talent muddied his evaluation, and caused Jones to be the fifth QB selected.

However, his learning under Belichick’s close friend and legendary coach Nick Saban, combined with an excellent preseason showing, made the Patriots’ QB competition close enough to justify Jones as the Week 1 starter.

  • Cam Newton stats (New England Patriots, 2020): Completed 242 of 368 passing attempts (65.8%), 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 82.9 passer rating; 137 carries, 592 yards, 12 rushing touchdowns
  • Mac Jones stats (2021 New England Patriots preseason): 36-of-52 passing attempts (69.2%), 388 yards, 1 touchdown, zero interceptions, 97.3 passer rating

Newton signed late last offseason with New England, as the team barely made an effort to replace the legendary Tom Brady. Even though he was a former league MVP, Newton hadn’t shown that form in multiple years, and his dual-threat skill set was at odds with the system offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had built around Brady.

Since he has little leverage to negotiate a sizable contract, there should be suitors for Newton. Unfortunately, his days as an NFL starter may be numbered in light of the Pats’ decision to release him.

It’s probably too late for Newton to go to a new team, pick up a new offense and start right away. Due to his rushing ability and excellent arm strength, Newton could catch on as a backup somewhere, with a chance to start in 2022.

Then again, given his recent injury history and lackluster 2020 campaign, we might be seeing the beginning of the end to Newton’s career.

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