Former NFL MVP Cam Newton says he was "absolutely" surprised that he was released by the New England Patriots earlier this month. Newton commented on the matter while speaking to his father, Cecil, at Westlake High School in Atlanta, Georgia.
"Did it catch me by surprise being released? Absolutely," Newton told his father.
Leading up to his release, Newton was forced to miss five days of practice due to a "misunderstanding" regarding COVID-19 protocols. As a result, many people pointed to his absence as contributing factor in the team's decision to release him. However, Newton thinks differently.
"During that time, I started seeing signs of change. Do I think this would have happened without me being away from the team for five days? Honestly, yes. It was going to happen. Did it help ease the decision? Yes," Newton explained.
Aside from his mishap regarding COVID-19 protocols, other fans believed that head coach Bill Belichick released Newton because he didn't want to be a backup for the team's starting quarterback, Mac Jones. Again, Newton refuted those rumors.
"Let me be honest with you. If they would have asked me, 'Cam, we're going to give the team to Mac, you're going to be second string; we expect you to be everything and some to guide him throughout this tenure,' I would have said, 'Absolutely,'" Newton said.
"But listen, the truth of the matter is this: He would have been uncomfortable."
While Newton maintains that he would have been comfortable being a backup quarterback, he also noted that Jones "didn't beat [him] out" for the starting job.
"But listen, the truth of the matter is this: He would have been uncomfortable," he continued.
"Mac Jones didn't beat me out. But I would have been a distraction. If they would have given him the starting role, they knew the perception that it would have had if the success didn't come."
This Sunday, Jones and the New England Patriots will play the first game of the regular season in Foxborough, Massachusetts against the Miami Dolphins. Meanwhile, Newton will start the season as a free agent for the first time in his career. Houston, Denver and Washington are potential landing spots for the accomplished quarterback.