Cam Newton shares surprise at New England Patriots release, didn't think Mac Jones would be comfortable with him as backup

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ESPN 10 September, 2021 - 08:16am 11 views

Why was Cam Newton released?

“The reason why they released me, is because indirectly I would have been a distraction,” Newton said. “Just my aura [would have been a distraction] . . . that's my gift and my curse.” When asked by his father what was next: Newton focused on family. Pats PulpitCam Newton opens up following his release from the Patriots

Cam Newton, introspective, entertaining and 'kinda bamboozled,' speaks on being cut by Patriots

Yahoo Sports 10 September, 2021 - 09:38am

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As things tend to be with Newton, the message was a little bit all over the place, and came across in a highly entertaining manner, but in the end made sense if you listened closely and beyond the wildest pull quotes.

Start with this: Newton sounded disappointed that he lost the starting job to rookie Mac Jones and was summarily cut. Who wouldn’t be? He wasn’t, however, angry, bitter or conspiratorial. His attitude was mostly upbeat. He laughed, smiled and joked that this wasn’t a retirement video, even though the backdrop of his alma mater, Westlake High School in Atlanta, made it look like that.

He understood the wisdom, from the Patriots' perspective, in going with Jones and not wanting a former league MVP with a huge personality and name sitting over his shoulder. It was, strategically, a way to make a clean break.

“Mac Jones didn’t beat me out,” Cam said. “But I would have been a distraction knowing if they would have given him the starting role. They knew the perception that would have had if the success didn’t come.”

He also believes if he was the starter from Week 1, that New England, now sporting a loaded roster, risked him having a lot of early success and delaying the transition to Jones.

“With that roster you can win right now,” Cam said. “If you go 4-1 or 5-0, you’re locked in … the reason why they released me is because indirectly I was going to be a distraction, without being the starter.”

“Just my aura,” Cam said. “That’s my gift and my curse. When you bring a Cam Newton to your facility, you bring a Cam Newton to your franchise, people are interested by the mere fact, ‘Who is he?’”

He isn’t wrong about that. Cam also made it clear that if he had been asked to be the backup, he would have gladly accepted the role. He tried to mentor and teach Jones as much as he could during camp.

“I prided myself and still pride myself on being the ultimate professional,” Cam said. “ … If they would have asked me, ‘Cam, we are going to give the team to Mac. You’re going to be the second string. We expect you to be everything and then some to guide through this team.’ I would’ve said, ‘Absolutely.’

“The truth of the matter is this, he would have been uncomfortable. And they knew.”

As for Jones, he had high praise and expects great things from the Alabama product.

“They are going to win football games with Mac Jones,” Cam said.

Cam said he felt “bamboozled” when a Patriots-approved trip to Atlanta to get a second opinion on an old injury sent him into the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol and caused him to miss five days of meetings and practices.

“They gave me clearance to go," Cam said. "This was the last time I felt that I had an opportunity to get a second opinion … To find out I had to sit out, that’s when I kinda felt bamboozled, because y’all told me to go. It wasn’t like, ‘Cam if you go, you’re taking up all the risk.’”

That said, he doesn’t think being unvaccinated is why he was cut. He said it just made the decision easier when Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia met with him at Gillette Stadium and informed him of the decision.

He acknowledges he should have seen it coming even though he was named the first-string quarterback and started all three preseason games.

“I look back at it, I was probably getting two reps to his 10 reps, and that’s why it was starting to make sense,” Cam said. “Even though I was starting, that doesn’t necessarily mean nothing, and that’s where they did a good job of disguising it … I would get the first two-to-three series. He would take it from the second quarter all the way to the third.”

Cecil Newton expressed a stronger level of frustration at the decision, but Cam was quick to brush that off as the natural reaction of a protective father. “The way you are looking at the situation is no different than any other parent.”

Cam acknowledged that he wasn’t a great player for the Patriots last year, noting, in part, that he wasn’t surrounded by great weapons and had only five weeks of prep before the season for a new system that asked him to read all of the defenses.

Still, he was clear that he should have done better.

“I didn't play good last year,” Cam said. “I was inaccurate. I didn’t know the playbook. They had to dumb it down … It's so new to me. I've never been in a system where I had to know where the [middle linebacker] was [lining up] … You can’t say that’s stupid and why wouldn’t you know that? I would say 30 of 32 teams don’t run that philosophy because the center runs the system.”

The dialogue was honest and at times humorous. Cecil took time to thank Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Belichick for employing his son, but also referred to the Patriots coach as “Dollar Bill” throughout.

They saved most of their criticism for media that relies on unnamed sources and the fact one Boston radio host criticized him dancing during practice. He also bristled at suggestions that Jones was capable of teaching him how to play the position.

Cam himself said he was enjoying having free time in September for the first time in his life and was spending it picking his kids up at school and cooking them dinner. At 32 though, he doesn’t think he’s done playing football.

“There’s not 32 guys out there better than me,” Cam said. “Let’s be honest.”

He looked like a guy who was always the first picked player on every team he ever played on — high school All-America, junior college national champion, Heisman winner, first pick overall, MVP … processing not being wanted for the first time in his career.

“Did it catch me by surprise being released?” Cam said. “Absolutely.”

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Cam Newton theorizes he would've been 'distraction' for Patriots, Mac Jones

Fox News 10 September, 2021 - 09:34am

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Cam Newton theorized Friday why the New England Patriots released him before the start of the 2021 regular season.

Newton remarked on his Patriots fallout, which ended with rookie Mac Jones being named starting quarterback, in his "Funky Friday" special on YouTube.

However, he believed his shadow would’ve been an issue.

"The reason they released me is because, indirectly, I was going to be a distraction without being the starter," the one-time NFL MVP said. "Just my aura. … That’s my gift and my curse. When you bring a Cam Newton to your facility, when you bring a Cam Newton to your franchise, people are interested."

He said his style and the way he dresses draw eyeballs his way.

"Let me be honest with you. If they would’ve asked me would I play behind they say, ‘Cam, we gonna give the team to Mac. … You’re gonna be the second stringer. We expect you to be everything and some to guide him throughout this tenure,’ I woulda said absolutely.

"The truth of the matter is this, he woulda been uncomfortable."

Newton did credit Jones for winning the job, saying the rookie proved to be "productive."

The Patriots signed Newton in the middle of the 2020 offseason after nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers, and he was thrust into a nearly impossible situation. He had to fill the big gap left by Tom Brady departing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and had to deal with key players opting out over coronavirus concerns.

Newton himself also contracted coronavirus but only missed one game. In 15 games, he had 2,657 passing yards and had only eight touchdown passes. He added 592 yards on the ground and 12 rushing touchdowns. New England failed to make the playoffs, but the Patriots brought him back.

The three-time Pro Bowler was put into the heat of the competition with Jones in the preseason. The Patriots selected Jones in the first round of the draft and he showed out during the preseason. Jones had 389 passing yards and a touchdown pass. Newton finished with 162 passing yards and a touchdown pass.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Newton’s release on Tuesday.

"It's always difficult when you have to reduce your roster," Belichick told WEEI Radio. "A lot of guys that worked hard. A lot of guys that performed well and had either good years for us, or good careers. I respect all those things, but each year is its own year and I have to do what I feel like is best for the football team and so regards to every decision, that's what I try to do. It's always tough to tell guys who have worked hard and have given you all they had that you're not able to keep them."

Belichick said he has "nothing but positive thoughts and feelings" for the 2015 league MVP.

"He came in here, he worked hard," Belichick said of Newton. "He gave us everything we had. Right now, our future is going to be Mac [Jones] at quarterback, and that is where we're going to go."

Ryan Gaydos is the Sports Editor for Fox News and Fox Business. Follow Ryan Gaydos on Twitter @Gaydos_ and if you got a tip you can email Ryan at Ryan.Gaydos@fox.com

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2021 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.

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