Patriots

Patriots release Cam Newton; Mac Jones will start Week 1

The release of Newton clears the way for the rookie Jones, who had a stronger training camp, to be the Patriots' starting quarterback.

Patriots Mac Jones Cam Newton
Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, right, and fellow quarterback Mac Jones (left). Jim Davis/Globe Staff
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Surprise!

The Patriots have reportedly released Cam Newton Tuesday morning, according to the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride.

The move clears the way for rookie quarterback Mac Jones to be the team’s starter in 2021.

The unexpected move comes just after Bill Belichick had once again spoken positively of Newton’s improvements during training camp while declining to give an update on the quarterback competition.

Now, there’s no need to wonder.

The veteran and former MVP had shown improvement over last year’s subpar passing performance and had gone into training camp as the team’s presumed starter. But Jones quickly closed the gap and had a stronger training camp, including solid performances in joint practices against the Giants last week while Newton was out due to NFL COVID protocols.

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Newton had signed a one-year deal this offseason to return to the Patriots in free agency, and the team added several pieces on offense to improve the skill positions around him.

But the writing was on the wall when the Patriots took Jones No. 15 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Belichick immediately put Newton forward as the team’s starting quarterback following Jones’s selection and reiterated Newton’s position as the starter as late as last week, saying that someone — Jones — would have to outplay the veteran to earn the job.

But he continually declined to name Newton the starter, fueling speculation that Jones had fully overtaken the incumbent. What’s more, Newton’s release comes on the heels of a frustrating absence due to COVID protocols which revealed the former MVP was unvaccinated.

His release, therefore, can be read a few ways. Jones outplayed him to take the job, for one thing. Also, the team now may not have to worry about its starting quarterback being unvaccinated. (Jones has not confirmed that he is vaccinated but has made comments being favorable toward vaccination. He also has never been masked at the practice facility — a sign that a player is unvaccinated.)

Now, the quarterback of the future has become the passer of the present.

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