The New England Patriots haven’t solved their quarterback issues in the absence of Tom Brady. This is despite head coach Bill Belichick preparing for the change as early as 2016. Now with Cam Newton out, it’s up to second stringer Mac Jones to figure out what it means to lead the Pats in the post-Brady era. Newton hasn’t been shy about his circumstances working under Belichick. Contrary to what some might assume, though, he is unrelentingly positive about his time there, and even about his exit. Cam Newton’s explanation for his release from the Patriots, however, might come off as a bit quirky.
Cam Newton is staying true to himself after his release from the New England Patriots
Newton’s never been the type to keep his head down. His disarming honesty is one of his better qualities. But during tense moments, his potential lack of self awareness can come on a little too strong. Hence the extremely mixed reactions to his post-release press tour. Fans and media wanted an explanation as to why Cam Newton was released instead of simply working behind Jones. The answers the former QB1 had for that question weren’t exactly clear, although they were certainly spoken with confidence.
Boston Herald reporter Meghan Ottolini posted to Twitter that Newton said Jones didn’t “beat me out.” He also felt like the transition was becoming obvious even when he still held the starting role. Boston Globe reporter Ben Volin tweeted that Newton took note of his replacement getting far more practice reps.
Newton sees his personality as both disruptive and constructive
By the time the decision to cut Newton came down, he was apparently mentally prepared for it. Fans of the quixotic QB, however, may not have been quite so prepared for the main part of his answer. That isn’t to say Newton spoke total nonsense. But his reasoning seems unlikely to be a direct match to what the team’s front office really thought of the situation.
People quoted the freshly jobless QB claiming as saying he “was going to be a distraction, without being a starter.” By way of attempting an explanation, he said, “[It’s] just my aura. That’s my gift and my curse.”
That answer doesn’t quite square with his statements in the same interview that he would’ve been happy to work behind Jones. It’s also, frankly, bizarre. Most NFL teams, the Patriots in particular, have shown an extremely willingness to deal with odd ducks and outright negative locker room personalities. Newton’s take reads more like the team read his star chart instead of his stat sheet.
What are Newton’s possible landing spots?
It’s not unprecedented for a rookie QB to suddenly find themselves in Jones’ position when a veteran option was available. The Chicago Bears are about to put Justin Fields through that very trial by fire, after a knee injury abruptly took the experienced Andy Dalton out of the lineup. With Nick Foles also on the sideline, it wasn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion that Fields would get his shot. But Foles, a backup for much of his career, probably didn’t have aura issues blocking his shot at returning to a starting job.
Newton’s spaced-out answer is part of his unique charm, in a sense. But it comes across as if Newton doesn’t quite grasp the situation his career is currently in. He still thinks of himself as capable of a starting job, yet the most obvious landing spot with the Washington Football Team was all but laughed off by head coach Ron Rivera.
Pending the results of the Deshaun Watson situation with the Houston Texans, as USA Today reports, Newton will have to get his aura in check and look for a backup job. In that position, the 2015 NFL MVP has a wealth of options, from the Seattle Seahawks to the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots’ unwillingness to simply slot him to that role implies that he may have a harder time finding any job in that spot than he might think, at least until the playoffs draw near.