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The New England Patriots didn’t show any hesitation in using a first-round pick on Mac Jones. Then again, most expected the former Alabama Crimson Tide star to go much earlier than No. 15 overall.

But by getting passed over for another quarterback in this year’s stacked class, Jones watched his financial future take a major tumble until Bill Belichick got on the phone. While landing with the Patriots should give Jones a chance to make a lot of money in the future, he could cost Cam Newton millions this season.

Mac Jones missed out on a huge payday by falling in the 2021 NFL draft

The San Francisco 49ers shook up the top of the 2021 NFL draft before it even began when they paid an expensive price to acquire the third overall pick. Trading away multiple first-round picks to move up nine spots seemed to suggest Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch had a specific quarterback in mind. And it didn’t take long for Jones’ name to emerge as the favorite to replace Jimmy Garoppolo.

However, Trey Lance made a late rise in the evaluation process. Leading right up to the opening night of the draft, the 49ers’ plan remained a complete mystery. Unfortunately for Jones, Shanahan and Lynch didn’t mortgage future assets to make him the new face of the franchise. Instead, they took a gamble on the upside of the former North Dakota State star.

By going third overall, Lance should make about $34.1 million on his rookie contract, according to Spotrac. That figure includes a projected $22.1 million signing bonus. Jones’ initial deal won’t come anywhere close to that. Since he fell to the 15th overall pick, he lost about $19 million. His rookie contract will total roughly $15.5 million, including a signing bonus of $8.7 million.

The former Alabama star potentially cost Cam Newton millions by landing with the Patriots

Jones’ draft-day slide cost him quite a bit of money. At the same time, it put him in a good position to cash in down the line. Because if he can replicate his collegiate success at the NFL level, the Patriots will be more than happy to hand him a contract extension a few years from now. However, by falling to New England, Jones potentially cost Newton millions of dollars, too.

Despite falling short of expectations last season, the former No. 1 pick received a second contract from the Patriots. His one-year deal contains $8.5 million in incentives based heavily on playing time.

But with Jones now in the fold, Newton’s financial future doesn’t look particularly bright. If the rookie outplays him in training camp and wins the starting job outright, he will spend more time on the bench than on the field. That doesn’t bode well for his chances of cashing in on any of his contract incentives since most of them are tied to snap percentages.

And even if Newton starts in Week 1, he could lose the job if he falters. Belichick can simply hand the keys to Jones—a move that would also eat into Newton’s potential payday for 2021.

Bill Belichick has done a masterful job of setting Jones up for immediate success

New England featured one of the NFL’s worst offenses in 2020. That won’t be the case this season.

Belichick smartly invested in proven playmakers who can make an immediate impact in New England. Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor bring speed, quickness, and solid route-running chops to the equation. Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith provide two big targets with run-after-the-catch ability. Those four players round out a skill group that also includes Jakobi Meyers, Damien Harris, James White, and Sony Michael. The Patriots should field one of the top offensive lines in the league, too.

Jones won’t have the same caliber of weapons as he did at Alabama, but Belichick has built a strong infrastructure to help the rookie succeed. After all, a young quarterback’s best friend is a reliable tight end, and New England has two of them.

The Patriots look like a strong Super Bowl contender, at least on paper. To unlock their full potential, though, they need to make major strides in the passing game. Jones can solve that problem right away by giving McDaniels a quarterback who’s capable of making the right decision and delivering the ball accurately on a consistent basis. And if Belichick decides Mac Jones deserves to start, Cam Newton should prepare for a less-lucrative year than he expected.

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