The New England Patriots made a very surprising move less than two weeks before the start of the regular season. According to the Boston Globe, the Patriots released Cam Newton after re-signing him earlier in the year. This means rookie Mac Jones will be the Patriots’ starting quarterback and will make his NFL regular-season debut on Sept. 12 when New England faces the Miami Dolphins.
Newton and Jones have battled all throughout the preseason for the starting QB job. Newton finished the preseason completing 14 of 21 passes for 162 yards, one touchdown and one interception with an 85.8 QB rating. Jones completed 36 of 52 passes for 388 yards and one touchdown with a 97.3 passer rating.
After the Patriots’ final preseason game this past weekend, coach Bill Belichick said the team has not made a decision on the starting QB position. “No, we still have a lot of decisions to make,” he said. Newton became starting quarterback last year after being cut by the Carolina Panthers. It was not a strong season for the 2015 NFL MVP, throwing for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions with an 82.9 passer rating in 15 games. The Patriots finished 7-9 last year, their worst record since 2000 when they went 5-11.
Before re-signing with the Patriots in March, Newton appeared on the I AM ATHLETE podcast and asked about rumors of him retiring. “Hell no! I can’t go out like that,” Newton said during the podcast appearance. “I hear all of that talk. My pride won’t allow me to do it. There aren’t 32 guys better than me.”
It will be interesting to see how this plays out because if an NFL team signs Newton, it will likely be a backup role for the time being. Newton was one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, leading the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance in 2015. He was drafted No. 1 overall by the Panthers in 2011 and won Offensive Rookie of the Year after throwing for 4,51 yards and 21 touchdowns while rushing for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Jones was drafted by the Patriots No. 15 overall earlier this year. He had a stellar career with the Alabama Crimson Tide, being named to the All-SEC and All-America Team and winning two national championships. In his final season at Alabama, Jones threw for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 13 games.