The New England Patriots have shaken up things a bit after head coach Bill Belichick did something he has never done in his tenure: draft a quarterback in the first round. Mac Jones’ arrival stirs the pot concerning Cam Newton’s future with the franchise, and it didn’t take long for Newton to put his spin on the situation.
Patriots take Mac Jones in the 2021 NFL draft
In the months before the 2021 NFL draft, there was much speculation about whether the Patriots would take a quarterback.
New England brought clarity by deciding to take Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick. The Alabama product is viewed as one of the top quarterbacks from his draft class, especially after an impressive season guiding his school to a national championship.
Jones led the country with 4,500 passing yards along with 41 touchdown passes to four interceptions. He also set NCAA records with a 77.4 completion percentage and a 203.1 passer rating.
Beyond that, his arrival to New England quickly invoked a strong, indirect response from his new teammate.
Cam Newton unloads subtle message after Patriots draft Mac Jones
One of the first reactions to the Patriots drafting Jones focused on Newton’s future with the franchise.
Jones’ arrival immediately puts a ticking clock on Newton’s status as the starter in New England. Shortly following the selection, the former league MVP went to Instagram to post a subtle photo with an intriguing caption.
“It was always me vs. the world until I found out it’s me vs. me.”
Newton will likely play off the post as meant only to inspire himself, but it’s hard to ignore the timing. He seems to believe his return to the Patriots was another shot to prove he has plenty left in the tank.
It was also an opportunity to secure his long-term future as the answer under center in New England. Instead, he’s now competing with a young quarterback who the organization envisions as its possible franchise cornerstone.
If Newton ever needed reassurance about his ability, it’s now with Jones in the fold.
Patriots immediately address their quarterback situation
The pressure is now on Newton to keep the rookie at bay during the 2021 season.
It may only be a matter of time before Jones overtakes him as the starter. Head coach Bill Belichick quickly silenced that conversation from the get-go by stating that Newton will head into this offseason as the starting quarterback.
“Cam’s our quarterback,” Belichick said, per Pro Football Talk. “Whatever time Jarrett [Stidham] or Mac are ready to challenge and compete, we’ll see how that goes. But right now for Mac, he’s just got a lot of learning in front of him. I know he’s very anxious to get going and get started on it.”
The decision to roll with Newton puts no immediate pressure on Jones to be ready to take on the starting duties. He will have time to get his legs under him while learning the Patriots’ complex offensive playbook.
Belichick will have the comfort of playing a quarterback who already has a year in the offensive system. Meanwhile, the improved assortment of offensive talent around the 31-year-old will give New England a clear picture of his skill at this point in his career.
Newton’s performance could speed up Jones’ timeline, but there isn’t an immediate desire to throw him into the fire. The Alabama product should be able to operate at his own pace to begin his rookie campaign.