What led to the Patriots’ stunning decision to cut quarterback Cam Newton, despite giving him first starter reps throughout training camp and the preseason? Apparently, it’s complicated.
According to Adam Beasley of The Athletic, a “combination” of factors led to Newton’s release on Tuesday, the final cutdown day for the Patriots to trim their roster to 53 players. Among the factors: the “emergence” of rookie Mac Jones, whom the team also named the starter, Newton’s “vaccination stance,” and Newton’s “uninspiring” performance over the summer.
Beasley added that Newton’s stance on vaccinations “caused a bit of a stir behind the scenes.” Newton missed five days of in-person work after what the Patriots termed a “misunderstanding” with the league’s COVID-19 protocols. He followed the five-day “return cadence” reserved for unvaccinated players.
“Uninspiring” doesn’t seem like an accurate description of Newton’s performance, but it certainly wasn’t inspiring enough to make him the clear choice over Jones, despite the latter’s inexperience. Newton was 14-of-21 (66.7 percent) for 162 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in 39 preseason snaps.
Jones will be the first Patriots rookie quarterback since Drew Bledsoe to start in Week 1. The Pats host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Sept. 12 in the season opener at Gillette Stadium.