WOW. There will be a ton of transactions in the NFL on Tuesday as teams continue to cut down their rosters to 53 before the NFL’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, but there is unlikely to be a move that sends shockwaves around the league like the one that just happened in New England. First reported by The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride, the Patriots have released quarterback Cam Newton, effectively naming rookie first-round pick Mac Jones the starter for their Week 1 contest against the Miami Dolphins.
Newton entered the summer as the favorite to win the QB battle but was dethroned by Jones, who was very impressive throughout training camp and the preseason. Jones showed the ability to command offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ offense and proved that he’s ready to play immediately. The last thing a rookie quarterback needs is a controversy. Every time Jones throws an interception or takes a bad sack, a portion of the Patriots faithful would call for Newton to enter the game. Bill Belichick doesn’t do distractions, and he just removed a fairly large one.
As for Newton, he instantly becomes the best quarterback available on the market and would upgrade the backup QB situation for at least 29 different teams. We imagine several teams will show interest in him. With that said, let’s examine three destinations that make sense for the former MVP.
Rush didn’t exactly set the world on fire this preseason. He completed 29-of-46 passes for a total of 262 yards and two touchdowns in four games. If starting quarterback Dak Prescott went down with an injury, raise your hand if you think Rush could keep the Cowboys afloat? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Bringing in Newton would create quite the media circus for America’s Team, but they should still consider doing so. If they’re seeking proper insurance behind Prescott, and they should be, Newton makes a lot of sense.
Russell Wilson has managed to stay incredibly healthy throughout his career for a guy that’s always scrambling, navigating the pocket, and taking on contact. But you always need an insurance policy.
It’s been a wild month for presumed backup Geno Smith, who left the team’s first exhibition game with a concussion and managed to return in time for their final tune-up, a 27-0 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Veteran journeyman Sean Mannion is also in the picture here, but when was the last time anyone got excited about having Mannion on their roster?
Newton would be a clear upgrade on both of these signal-callers. While he differs from Wilson in many areas, it’s easy to envision him playing in Seattle’s offense should Wilson miss time in 2021.
Like many teams in the league, the Falcons have a backup quarterback problem. Former Alabama legend A.J. McCarron was set to play second fiddle to Matt Ryan this season, but those plans were dramatically altered when he suffered a season-ending injury in Atlanta’s second preseason game.
McCarron’s injury paved the way for the team to bring in Josh Rosen, but he largely failed to impress in his lone preseason showing by completing 9-of-18 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. Rookie undrafted free agent Feleipe Franks is also on the roster but has done little to prove he deserves a spot on Atlanta’s final 53.
New head coach Arthur Smith enjoys working with a mobile quarterback like Newton. Smith coached a pair of athletic signal-callers in Tennessee in the form of Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill, and understood how to take advantage of their natural gifts. Ryan isn’t that type of quarterback, but Newton is. He would make a great backup in Smith’s offensive system.