Coach Bill Belichick told ESPN Jul. 31 Newton was the team’s official quarterback, but he wanted to rebuild that position, or another player would have to play better than him. In Belichick’s view, Jones has done that.
Jones concluded the preseason with 36 out of 52 passes completed for 389 yards, throwing one touchdown with no interceptions and playing 107 snaps — the highest among Patriots quarterbacks.
Newton started every game this preseason but did not play as much, only taking 39 snaps. He finished the preseason with 14 out of 21 passes completed for 162 yards, throwing one touchdown and one interception.
Newton played his first nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers, who selected him first overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft out of Auburn University. He is the leader in quarterback rushing touchdowns while playing with the Panthers, reaching 70 total while winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in the process.
In 2015, he was named the Most Valuable Player, helping his team obtain a franchise best 15-1 record and earning his first appearance in Super Bowl 50.
Belichick said Newton was heading in the “right direction” when asked about his preseason and training camp performance. He said he was looking for consistency and production over a period of time when evaluating his quarterbacks, which included practices and games.
A breakthrough moment came for Jones when Newton missed three practices Aug. 23 due to COVID-19 protocol. Jones took over the team, replacing Newton.
As a free agent, Newton’s career in the league is uncertain to many critics. The Dallas Cowboys recently expressed their interest in the quarterback after the release, according to NFL reporter Josina Anderson. Other teams such as the Washington Football Team, Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos have shown potential interest in the veteran quarterback.
“I really appreciate all the love and support during this time,” Newton said on his Instagram account. “But I must say, please don’t feel sorry for me. I’m good.”