The New England Patriots released Cam Newton and handed the starting quarterback job to rookie Mac Jones after an impressive preseason. The Patriots coaching staff have never given a definitive reason for their decision, and that may never come from any member of the team’s braintrust.
However, you can expect to see and hear a ton of takes from outsiders, insiders and others who claim to have sources. A reason story, which is quite damning for Newton, surfaced on Saturday thanks to former Patriot, current ESPN analyst Rob Ninkovich.
According to Ninkovich, the biggest reason the Patriots went with Jones over Newton is related to the former’s superior grasp of the playbook.
Ninkovich: Mac Jones Was Teaching Cam Newton the Playbook
Ninkovich played for the Patriots for eight seasons. He was a key part of a defensive unit that helped New England win 2 Super Bowls. Thus, it’s not hard to believe he still has some connections within the organization.
Based on that history, people will listen when he speaks about the Patriots roster.
“From what I gained from sources inside the actual building, from everything I understand now, Mac was basically helping Cam learn the playbook,” said Ninkovich on the Don and Ninko podcast. “Because Mac was having less mental errors and having a better understanding of the offense. We didn’t see Cam running any two-minute, we didn’t see him run any no-huddle. You have to run no-huddle. That’s vital.”
If you watch the segment on TikTok, the info is delivered pretty casually, and even Ninkovich’s co-host seems to doubt the validity of his partner’s story. It should also be noted that Ninkovich was pretty anti-Newton the entire offseason as well.
So while it is possible he’s accurate with his take, it is also possible he is spinning this in a way that fits the narrative he’s been pushing for months.
Will Newton Find Another Job?
Quite honestly, the answer to that question is a tough one. There is no question he is still good enough to be on an NFL roster. However, he has two major things working against him.
The first is his status as it pertains to COVID-19 vaccination. As a presumed unvaxxed player, Newton could be seen as a potential problem for an entire roster and coaching staff based on the current protocols for dealing with the virus.
It’s possible Newton could elect to get vaccinated, which would eliminate this issue. That won’t tackle the second thing that is likely still a problem.
Newton wants to start. He hasn’t been a backup since he was a freshman in college at Florida playing behind Tim Tebow. There probably isn’t a single NFL team that he could join tomorrow that would allow him to walk right into a starting spot.
Newton would have to accept a backup role, and that’s much easier said than done for someone like him. Newton’s personality is huge. He is charismatic and magnetic. That is a potentially tough element to have in a locker room for a backup QB.
It would take a very established starting QB to handle that sort of presence, and that probably isn’t a team Newton would be willing to go to at this point in his career. The former NFL MVP has 2 very big decisions to make is if he is going to continue his NFL career. Will he get vaccinated, and is he OK with being a backup quarterback for now?
How he answers those 2 questions will dictate his NFL future.
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