If the Patriots drafting a quarterback with their top pick wasn’t convincing enough, the way things played out at minicamp last month proved there’s a position battle underway in New England.
But Tom E. Curran, the Patriots insider for NBC Sports Boston, predicted Thursday that Cam Newton will hang on to his starting job over rookie Mac Jones, at least to start.
Here’s what Curran wrote:
Newton was the safe choice to run a team with nobody to throw to. Now? There are pieces in place that an accurate, decisive quarterback can take advantage of. Jones will. But so will Newton, who throws it better than people thought he would. Newton wins the job coming out of camp by just a nose, setting up a week-to-week ‘Can Cam keep his job …’ scenario early in the season.
The Patriots had no one but Newton last year, bringing him in after Tom Brady abandoned them to win a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yes, Jarrett Stidham was on the roster, but as the season wore on without results from Newton, the team elected to stay the less-than-stellar course.
The lackluster performance was somehow enough, as the Patriots brought Newton back on a cheap one-year deal this offseason. Heading into 2021, the Patriots have loaded up the offense around him, adding pass-catching pieces like Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, to name a few.
But per Curran’s line of thinking, those pieces weren’t necessarily added with Newton in mind, but rather with any capable quarterback under center. That means if Jones can handle himself during training camp, preseason and the start of the season, he could easily overtake the veteran for the starting job.
Either way, it’s a good problem to have in New England. If Newton wins and keeps the starting role, he’ll have plenty of options offensively. And if Jones takes over, it means the Patriots brass has faith in the future (and a backup who has proven capable.)