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Patriots release Cam Newton, name Mac Jones starting QB

In a surprise cut, Cam Newton is released by New England Patriots.

United States; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones watches New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

In a surprise development, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have released Cam Newton and will put all their chips in on rookie quarterback Mac Jones, per the Boston Globe. Many believed that Newton, being the veteran of the two, would end up starting while Jones eased into the role, but the team has seen enough this training camp and preseason to go with the first rounder Jones.

After Tom Brady moved onto Tampa Bay last offseason, the Patriots were at a loss for the quarterback position. They found some help when they picked up former league MVP and recently released Newton, but the 2020 season was a disappointment for the Patriots and Newton. The team knew they needed to find some young help to develop at the position and ended up trading up to the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to grab the Alabama product Jones.

Jones and Newton competed for the starting job all training camp and until the last game of the preseason. The fact that Newton started all of those game appeared to show he remained in the lead, but even after Newton just played two possessions while Mac Jones went until the end of the third quarter, Jones won the job.

It probably didn’t help that Cam Newton wasn’t vaccinated for COVID-19 and missed five days of the preseason. During that time Jones was able to get all the snaps with the first team and go against the New York Giants first team defense in joint practices. That lack of leadership and judgement by Newton might have pushed the Patriots over the edge into Jones’ camp.

Newton will be able to find a new job if he wants one, but he’ll likely need to settle for a backup job, while Jones will face the Miami Dolphins and the quarterback he replaced at Alabama, Tua Tagovailoa, in Week 1.