So, why exactly did the Patriots cut Newton rather than keep the veteran to back up Jones?
Well, performance could be a major reason, as the 32-year-old struggled for most of last season as New England’s starter. But Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed pointed out Tuesday that a couple of other factors likely played a role: Newton’s vaccination status and his command of the locker room.
Kyed tweeted he has spoken to a few people around the NFL who, for these reasons, would be surprised if Newton imminently signs with another team.
It doesn’t help Newton’s case, either, that there seemingly aren’t any starting QB jobs available right now.
Newton hasn’t stated publicly whether he’s vaccinated, but his absence last week following a “misunderstanding” of the NFL’s COVID-19 testing protocols indicates he’s not. Obviously, this is a personal choice, and players aren’t required to be vaccinated. But having an unvaccinated starting quarterback is risky business, seeing as a similar protocol mishap during the regular season could lead to another absence, a close-contact situation or, in the worst-case scenario, a coronavirus outbreak.
Add that to Newton’s commanding presence — a strength in most scenarios, but less than ideal when a rookie starter is trying to win over teammates — and it’s easy to see why the Patriots would prefer to have a backup with a lower profile. Brian Hoyer certainly fits the bill, and it remains to be seen whether New England will bring in another quarterback before the regular season begins.
Teams probably will do their due diligence on Newton as he leaves the Patriots. They’d be foolish not to, based on his track record alone. The three-time Pro Bowl selection just might need to be patient before actually landing a new job.