New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick met with the media Wednesday for the first time since releasing Cam Newton and naming rookie quarterback Mac Jones QB1.
There was speculation that Newton’s vaccination status played a role in his release. Belichick denied the rumors, adding that plenty of vaccinated players and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 this summer.
NFL teams are not allowed to cut players solely on vaccination status. So, Belichick obviously felt Jones outplayed Newton as training camp progressed.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels also discussed the decision to name Jones the starter, saying he has improved throughout the summer and has done everything the Patriots have asked of him.
Newton, who is unvaccinated, missed five days of practice last week due to a COVID-19 testing protocol misunderstanding. That allowed Jones to see more reps, and he made the most of the opportunity.
Jones finished the preseason 36-of-52 for 389 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. Newton, meanwhile, finished 14-of-21 for 162 yards, with one touchdown and one interception in significantly less playing time.
It doesn’t seem like Newton will be sidelined for long, though. The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly interested in the former MVP, and several other franchises are being listed as potential landing spots, including the Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens.