Mac Jones is New England Patriots starter as Cam Newton is cut after concerns about Covid stance
- The Patriots have cut Cam Newton, 32, as they trim their roster to 53 players
- Newton declined to say whether he had been vaccinated for Covid last month
- He missed three practices last week after ‘misunderstanding’ Covid protocols
- Newton had a shoulder injury last year and his performance was uneven
- Alabama product Mac Jones was take 15th overall in this year’s NFL draft
- He faces the prospect of becoming the long-term successor to Tom Brady
The New England Patriots have released quarterback Cam Newton, handing the starting job to rookie Mac Jones.
Jones impressed in preseason – he played 107 snaps and went 36-of-52 for 389 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions – earning the respect of his team-mates.
More importantly he earned the nod from head coach Bill Belichick, who once again held true to a favourite mantra: ‘Dependability is more important than ability’.
Mac Jones will be 23 on September 5 and will play his first NFL game seven days later
Jones, the 15th overall pick of this year’s draft, is the new face of the New England Patriots
Newton, 32, missed three practices last week because of what the team called a ‘misunderstanding’ of Covid protocols.
After attending a team-approved medical meeting in Atlanta last week, he partook in a five-day process that only unvaccinated players undertake.
He has in the past declined to say whether he has been vaccinated, saying the issue was ‘too personal’.
Newton, the No 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, joined New England on a one-year deal in March 2020 after nine seasons in Carolina.
He signed another one-year deal in March and leaves with $3.5million of guaranteed money.
Cam Newton spent a topsy-turvy first year in New England but will not return this season
‘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 posted on Instagram.
It is unclear where the 2015 MVP will land this season. In 2020 his form was hampered by a lingering shoulder injury and a brush with Covid in week four, which forced him to miss ten days and derailed a promising start.
While Newton started all three preseason games, Jones thrived in his absence last week, especially in the joint practice with the New York Giants, and , as first reported by the Boston Globe.
Veteran Brian Hoyer will be Jones’ back up with injured Jarrett Stidham still on the PUP list.
Bill Belichick (left, alongside returning sidekick Matt Patricia) is already onto Miami
Earlier in the offseason special team ace Matthew Slater, the longest-tenured Patriot, said: ‘I think he’s a great young man. 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.’
Veteran offensive tackle Trent Brown also added: ‘I think he can be special. To be so young, I think he makes some throws that not a lot of young guys can make.’
Jones was the fifth quarterback taken in this year’s draft.
Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance and Justin Fields had their names called in Cleveland before Jones.
With the Patriots searching for a successor to Tom Brady, the Alabama product fell into Belichick’s lap with the 15th overall pick as the likes of San Francisco and Chicago traded up for their signal callers.
Jones, pictured in action against Philadelphia in preseason, is second favourite for OROY
Jones began the day at around 10-1 to win rookie of the year. He’s now around the 5-1 mark, behind No 1 overall pick Lawrence of Jacksonville.
Jones, who turns 23 on September 5,begins the next stage of his career at Foxboro a week later against the Miami Dolphins.
For now, the Patriots have a new face of the franchise – and the Jones No 10 jerseys are already sold out in Patriot Pro Shop.