The New England Patriots reportedly released former NFL MVP Cam Newton earlier this morning. With this move, the Patriots have indicated that former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones will be the team's starting quarterback as the 2021-2022 NFL season begins next week.
Newton signed with Patriots last year after spending nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers. While in New England, Newton played 15 games as the team's starting quarterback. Through his first two games with the Patriots, Newton looked phenomenal while completing 68% of his passes, scoring six touchdowns and leading his team to a 2-1 record. However, things started to go downhill in early October after Newton tested positive for COVID-19.
Unable to play against the Kansas Chiefs in early October, Newton returned on October 18 against the Denver Broncos, but he did not look like himself. He turned over the ball twice and was sacked a season-high four times. After his COVID-19 recovery, Newton and the Patriots lost three straight games. The Patriots would go on to finish with a 7-9 record and miss the playoffs.
During the offseason, Bill Belichick and the Patriots were uncharacteristically active in free agency. In need of help in the passing game, New England picked up two wide receivers, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, as well as a tight end, Hunter Henry. On the defensive end, the Patriots added Raekwon McMillan from the Raiders, Matthew Judon from the Ravens and LaRoy Reynolds from the Falcons. However, their biggest offseason addition came on draft night. With the 15th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Patriots selected Mac Jones from the University of Alabama.
Immediately after Jones was selected by the Patriots, all eyes veered toward Cam Newton. After playing 10 years in the NFL, Cam Newton was entering the later stages of his career, so it came as no surprise that the Patriots would want to plan for the future. With that said, the Patriots selecting a quarterback in the first round signaled that Jones may start as early as this year.
With Jones in and Newton out, the number of Black starting quarterbacks in the NFL falls yet again. At the start of the 2020 NFL season, there were a record-high 10 Black starting quarterbacks. Unfortunately, four of those quarterbacks have lost their jobs unfairly, due to poor play or because they have been accused of engaging in criminal behavior. On the bright side, there are a few Black quarterbacks that may earn starting spots throughout the season. Most notably, rookie quarterbacks Justin Fields and Trey Lance have impressed many fans throughout the preseason and will likely take on a starting role before the end of the season. Also, Dwayne Haskins may get a starting spot sometime this season due to Ben Rothlisberger's extensive injury history. Not to mention, Cam Newton could vie for a starting spot in Houston after leaving the Patriots.
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