Patriots cut former NFL MVP Cam Newton and name Mac Jones as starter
The New England Patriots have cut Cam Newton and named rookie Mac Jones as their starting quarterback, according to multiple reports. The news came as somewhat of a surprise after Patriots coach Bill Belichick said earlier on Tuesday that Newton was going “in the right direction” during preseason and training camp.
Newton, who was named NFL MVP in 2016, and Jones had been competing for the starting spot during preseason. Newton was the Patriots’ primary starter last season, but his campaign was hampered by a lack of quality receivers and a bout of Covid-19, and the Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“I really appreciate all the love and support during this time but I must say … please don’t feel sorry for me. I’m good,” Newton said in an Instagram post after reports of his release emerged.
The Patriots, who are searching for a long-term successor to Tom Brady, selected Jones in the first round of this year’s draft. Neither quarterback shone or was terrible in preseason: Jones was 36-of-52 for 389 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions while Newton was 14-for-21 for 162 yards with one touchdown and one interception. However, Newton missed a number of practices last week due to what he said was a misunderstanding of Covid-19 protocols.
At the age of 32, Newton, once one of the most feared quarterbacks in the NFL, must now find himself a new team. While injuries and age have diminished him there will be interest in a player who can make plays on the ground and through the air.
Jones, meanwhile, has won the respect of many of his teammates since being drafted. “I think he’s a great young man,” said Matthew Slater, the longest serving member of the team. “Character really counts when you talk about what we do off the football field, the way we carry ourselves. The way that he commands respect of even guys like myself, older guys that been here for a while, he’s earned that respect by the way that he’s gone about his craft.”
The Patriots also have Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham as back-up quarterbacks on the roster. Newton’s one-year contract guaranteed him $3.5m this year.