The New England Patriots decided to release veteran quarterback Cam Newton on Tuesday after weeks of chatter about whether he’d be the team’s starter in 2021-22.
In doing so, the organization signaled that it was more comfortable handing the keys to the kingdom to rookie Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.
Jones played 107 snaps over the course of the preseason, the most of any Patriots quarterback. In that span he went 36-of-52 for 389 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. Newton, meanwhile, finished the preseason 14-of-21 for 162 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
There were three major reasons that ultimately resulted in Newton and the Patriots parting ways. Each was somewhat concerning in its own way and could potentially impact how other teams approach the veteran quarterback.
So where does Newton go from here?
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, there are currently five legit suitors for Newton’s services. Those teams are: the New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In the case of New Orleans, LaCanfora sees the potential addition of Newton as a way to balance out some of Taysom Hill’s weaknesses.
“Newton doing some of the stuff Hill does would get my attention,” he wrote. “Sean Payton loves to road grade people. Hill focuses more on special teams? Cam as the short yardage QB? Payton already has one former Heisman winning QB reclamation process going on. He’s always willing to think outside the box.”
For San Francisco, adding Newton could serve as risk mitigation in the event that a Jimmy Garoppolo trade arises before Trey Lance gets healthy.
“But what if the 49ers quickly reached a point where trading Jimmy G seemed their best course of action, and they had a suitor willing to take that salary off their hands?” La Canfora noted. “And then Cam slides out to San Francisco, where Shanahan has been dealing with far less accomplished back-ups for quite some time? He could create some challenging looks with the run action, and throw in how they use the fullback as well and you could have some serious beef to deal with up front.”
Pray for LaMelo. https://t.co/19CUdeNwCM
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 1, 2021
In the cases of Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Tampa Bay – it’s really just a matter of determining whether the backups on the roster are truly better than Newton. Are Dwayne Haskins, Josh Rosen and Blaine Gabbert really better than a former league MVP? That’s up for debate. After all, opposing teams were openly mocking the Patriots’ offense under Newton last year – so that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of his skillset.
This will be an interesting situation to keep an eye on. Over the past few weeks Newton has suffered one embarrassing setback after another. Where he ends up, and how long it takes for someone to add him, will say a lot about how the 32-year-old’s career will proceed from this point forward.