The Patriots made headlines on Tuesday when they shockingly released quarterback Cam Newton and made rookie Mac Jones the starter for Week 1. The naming of Jones as the starter wasn’t a major shock to many observers around the league, but the release of the veteran Newton definitely was.
Coach Bill Belichick had essentially called Newton his starter for much of the preseason, though he also said that Newton would have to continue to play well and reestablish himself in that position. Jones appears to have done that in Belichick’s eyes, so the Patriots are moving to the future with the Newton move.
Jones, a first-round pick from Alabama, played the most snaps of any Patriots quarterback in the preseason, finishing 36-of-52 passing for 389 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. New England put points on the board on every drive that started with Jones as the quarterback.
Newton played just 39 snaps, though he started every preseason game, completing 14-of-21 passes for 162 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
As for the Patriots, the move towards Jones over Newton seems to have only improved their position on the NFL odds board. Still set at 9½ wins for the season, bettors have favored the over in that wager over the past week.
The release of Newton may have been more to allow Jones to grow into a leader on the team and not feel pressure to perform with a former league MVP looking over his shoulder. Newton was a team captain, so there would have been some on the team that would prefer he be the starter, especially if Jones struggles in the early going of the season.
Now Jones can know that he is the long-term starter and grow into that leadership role. Veteran backup Brian Hoyer will serve as the No. 2 quarterback for the Patriots with Newton’s departure with Jarrett Stidham currently on the physically unable to perform list.
After news came out about his release, Newton posted on his Instagram account: “I really appreciate all the love and support during this time, but I must say … please don’t feel sorry for me. I’m good.”
Newton will certainly draw some interest from teams that need a veteran backup. He signed a one-year deal in March that included $3.5 million in guaranteed money but could have earned up to $13.6 million based on incentives.
Hurts Named Eagles Starter
The Philadelphia Eagles will have second-year man Jalen Hurts under center when they open the regular season Sept. 12 at Atlanta. Head coach Nick Sirianni made the announcement on Tuesday after weeks of not wanting to name a starter to promote competition at the position.
“Jalen’s our starter. He’s done a great job,” Sirianni said. “We wanted him to take the reins and take advantage of the opportunity that he got, and we feel like the preseason he had, he did that. I constantly saw a player that got better every single day. I consistently saw a player getting better with his reads and his accuracy and his ability to run, and when not to run. He did exactly what we wanted him to do.”
Sirianni’s reluctance to name Hurts the starter along with the team’s recent trade for Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew had many wondering if Hurts wouldn’t get the job. The team also has veteran Joe Flacco on the roster.
Hurts started four games as a rookie after being selected in the second round of the 2020 draft. He threw for 1,061 yards and six touchdowns while completing 52 percent of his passes.
Despite the off-season moves, the Eagles continue to hold a rock-steady last place in the NFC East division odds at +500.
Rosen Sticks With Falcons
Former first-round pick Josh Rosen may have found a home after he survived the final cuts to the Atlanta Falcons roster on Tuesday. Rosen signed with the team on Aug. 24 and played in the second half of the team’s final preseason game on Sunday after just three days of practice with his new squad.
Rosen was 9-of-18 for 118 yards and a touchdown — Atlanta’s only passing score of the preseason — and felt confident with how he played.
“I’m just working to get my confidence back,” Rosen said. “I’m the kind of football player, I just like making plays. I got to work on just getting more consistent and taking what defenses give me, but just naturally within my game. That’s how I separate myself, I make plays with my arm.”
The Falcons have veteran Matt Ryan as their starter, with Rosen and undrafted rookie Feleipe Franks as his backups. Atlanta is Rosen’s fifth NFL team since being the No. 10 pick of the 2018 draft. He spent much of last season on Tampa Bay’s practice squad before signing with San Francisco in the offseason, though he was released earlier this month, leading to his signing with the Falcons.
The Falcons crashed on the odds board over the summer, opening at eight wins for their regular-season record, Atlanta has since been bet down to a low of 6½ for the year according to the BetUS’s Sportsbook’s NFL regular-season wins totals.