BOSTON (CBS) — The Cam Newton era is over in New England. The Patriots released the veteran quarterback on Tuesday, when teams were required to trim their rosters to 53 players.
The news indicates that rookie quarterback Mac Jones has won the starting QB job in New England.
Newton posted to Instagram after the news broke, telling his supporters that he is not in need of sympathy.
“I really appreciate the love and support during this time but I must say … please don’t feel sorry for me!! I’m good,” Newton said with a winking emoji.
Newton, 32, re-signed with the Patriots during the offseason on a one-year deal. He took over as the starting quarterback a year ago, becoming the first Week 1 starting QB in New England not named Tom Brady since 2001.
In a limited offense and with an abbreviated training camp with no preseason, Newton struggled as a passer in 2020. He completed 65.8 percent of his passes but threw for just 2,657 yards with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 15 games. He missed one game — Week 4 in Kansas City — after testing positive for COVID-19.
The Patriots drafted Jones with the 15th overall pick in the draft this year, but immediately after making the pick, head coach Bill Belichick declared that Newton remained the starter.
The rookie has impressed throughout the spring and summer, which surely played a significant factor in this decision.
After a dominant performance in Week 2 of the preseason, Newton traveled to what the Patriots deemed a “club-approved medical appointment” outside of the New England. In doing so, Newton violated the NFL’s COVID protocols for players who are not fully vaccinated, which forced him to stay out of the Patriots’ facility for five days. Newton missed three days of practice during that period, including a joint practice session with the New York Giants. During that absence, Jones shined in the joint session with the Giants.
Last week, when asked what it would take for Jones to overtake Newton as the starting QB, Belichick simply said, “Somebody would have to play better than him.”
Newton’s one-year contract had $3.5 million guaranteed and included a number of incentives.
Newton started all three preseason games for the Patriots, completing 14 of his 21 passes for 162 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Jones didn’t start any game but got much more playing time, completing 36 of his 52 passes for 388 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.