Cam Newton’s tenure in New England came to an end last month when the team opted to cut him and name first-round pick Mac Jones its starting quarterback. The move came as a surprise, as Newton signed a one-year deal to return to the team and was penciled in as the starter.
But ultimately, Bill Belichick decided to go with the former Alabama standout, and while he said Newton “gave us everything he had,” the franchise decided to get its quarterback of the future as much time under center as possible. Newton, in a video released on Friday, doesn’t totally see things that way, and while he said that he would have been happy to stick around in a backup role to mentor Jones, the team viewed keeping him around as a “distraction.”
“[Patriots senior football adviser] Matt Patricia was there, Bill was there, and we greeted each other and just started talking,” Newton said. “At that time they told me they were going to give the reins to Mac. I was like, ‘Cool.’ It didn’t dawn on me, ‘Y’all releasing me?’ I was confused. We all were shocked. It was all uncomfortable for everybody.
“… The reason why they released me is because, indirectly, I was going to be a distraction, without being a starter. Just my aura. That’s my gift and my curse. When you bring Cam Newton into your facility [and] your franchise, people are interested by mere fact of ‘Who is he? Why does he wear his hair? Why does he talk? Why does he act? Why does he perform?’ All these questions.”
Newton also insisted that Jones did not beat him out, and that if he stuck around, there would have potential issues that popped up if Jones wasn’t immediately ready to play at a high level.
“I would have been a distraction,” Newton said. “If they would have gave him the starting role, they knew the perception that it would have had if the success didn’t come.”
Newton, 32, is now a free agent after playing in 15 games last year. He completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Additionally, Newton ran the ball 137 times for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns.