New England Patriots

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - AUGUST 29: Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots looks on from the bench during the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on August 29, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

What led to the Patriots’ stunning decision to cut quarterback Cam Newton, despite giving him first starter reps throughout training camp and the preseason? Apparently, it’s complicated.

According to Adam Beasley of The Athletic, a “combination” of factors led to Newton’s release on Tuesday, the final cutdown day for the Patriots to trim their roster to 53 players. Among the factors: the “emergence” of rookie Mac Jones, whom the team also named the starter, Newton’s “vaccination stance,” and Newton’s “uninspiring” performance over the summer.

Beasley added that Newton’s stance on vaccinations “caused a bit of a stir behind the scenes.” Newton missed five days of in-person work after what the Patriots termed a “misunderstanding” with the league’s COVID-19 protocols. He followed the five-day “return cadence” reserved for unvaccinated players.

“Uninspiring” doesn’t seem like an accurate description of Newton’s performance, but it certainly wasn’t inspiring enough to make him the clear choice over Jones, despite the latter’s inexperience. Newton was 14-of-21 (66.7 percent) for 162 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in 39 preseason snaps.

Jones will be the first Patriots rookie quarterback since Drew Bledsoe to start in Week 1. The Pats host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Sept. 12 in the season opener at Gillette Stadium.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at