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FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 03: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts during the second quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on January 3, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

Before the Patriots kicked off for their season finale Sunday, it appeared one of the biggest offseason questions was already answered. It sounded like Cam Newton was set to play his final game in New England.

Appearing on ESPN’s NFL Countdown, insider Adam Schefter said the following relating to Newton’s future in New England:

“Both sides enjoyed their relationship, but both sides expect that it will take them to a different place and a different direction in 2021 with Cam Newton likely moving on and the Patriots in search of a new quarterback for next season.”

That was followed by a tweet from the official Sports Center account, citing Schefter as saying the Patriots and Cam Newton are “expected to part ways.”

So an ESPN insider said something on an ESPN show, which was then relayed through an official ESPN-run Twitter account. Seems concrete, no?

Not to Bill Belichick.

During his postgame press conference on Sunday afternoon, Belichick was asked about Schefter’s comments, replying with a question of his own. “Was that another one of your anonymous reports?” Upon being told it was from Schefter, Belichick remarked “I don’t think that’s what Adam said. You should talk to Adam about that.”

Later, ESPN’s Mike Reiss relayed to Belichick that he had spoken with Schefter, who clarified his initial comments on NFL Countdown “wasn’t a report, but part of an overall discussion.” Despite it sounding like he was passing on information, apparently Schefter’s words were no different than those from anybody else on a Sunday morning NFL pregame desk – he was just giving a take.

MORE: Patriots finish season with win over Jets

It’s hard to blame anybody on the outside for misreading the situation. Schefter is known first and foremost as an insider, and the guy who knows the inner-workings of NFL front offices better than anyone else. Having him double as an analyst without clearly laying out the context first – which clearly wasn’t done – is asking for this kind of situation.

So where does that leave Newton and the Patriots? It’s hard to say. Was this a true mix up of the context of the situation? Or is Belichick deflecting from a report that likely came from Newton’s agent, not the team? We might not find out for some time, as the Patriots gear up for another offseason of ‘will they, won’t they’ with their starting quarterback.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.