The New England Patriots made one thing abundantly clear with their approach in the 2021 NFL Draft: Cam Newton is not their quarterback of the future.
He seems to understand that.
Newton is back with the Pats on another one-year deal after an up-and-down (but mostly down) 2020 season. He knows it’s “put up or shut up” time since the Patriots exhausted their first-round pick on Mac Jones, a quarterback out of Alabama.
It’s a clear sign that the Patriots view Jones as the long-term solution at quarterback, even if it’s Newton who gets the lion’s share of playing time right off the bat. Newton was insistent that he thinks the Patriots made the right move going with Jones, and he reiterated that Thursday on ESPN Radio.
“Come on man, let’s be honest. I’ve been playing this game long enough to know that’s the right pick, and I’ve said it numerous, numerous times,” Newton said to Keyshawn Johnson. “What you’re not going to get out of me is a disgruntled person.
“Mac and Cheese is a person who is — ever since I’ve seen him — has come into the locker room with a business approach. Doing the initiatives of learning his teammates, understanding that (he’s) got to raise (his) level of play from the collegiate level to the professional level. And I’m here for him, as well as he’s here for me. Just like (Jarrett) Stidham, just like Brian Hoyer, it’s no different. Our job is to be the best player we can possibly be for the New England Patriots. No matter what is asked of us, it’s our job to do that. So that’s what it pretty much comes down to, so when Mac was picked there was no type of ill-will feelings, and there’s still no ill-will feelings because competition brings out the best in everybody.”
It helps that Newton has this mindset, because there is a nonzero chance that Jones ends up grabbing the starting job from Newton at some point this season. And tough as that might be for Newton, the Patriots would need him to continue mentoring Jones as well as he can.
For what it’s worth, most people think Newton will be the one starting for the Patriots this season, although some within the organization seem to think it will be Jones. Whatever the case, the situation at signal-caller is the unequivocal top storyline entering training camp, which begins at the end of the month.