The Patriots released quarterback Cam Newton on Tuesday and rookie Mac Jones will be the starter, according to a league source.
Newton, who missed three days of practice last week because of COVID protocols, was the presumed starting quarterback throughout training camp and the Patriots’ three preseason games. Instead, the Patriots will go with Jones, who was drafted in the first round out of Alabama in April.
Jones finished the exhibition season 36 of 52 for 388 yards and a score, but was diplomatic when asked about the starting job after Sunday’s victory over the Giants.
“I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities to play and I can improve on everything I want to improve on. So I think just learning from [Brian] Hoyer, Cam, Jarrett [Stidham], any one I can, and listening to Josh [McDaniels] and his coaching, there’s a lot of work to do but I think I’ve made progress,” Jones said. “But, honestly, the only thing that matters is today.”
Newton was 14 of 21 for 162 yards with a TD and an interception in the Patriots’ three preseason games. After the Patriots drafted Jones, coach Bill Belichick immediately called Newton “our quarterback” and Newton played with the starting units in his preseason appearances.
In March, the Patriots signed Newton to a one-year deal with the Patriots worth a maximum of $13.6 million. Only $3.5 million was fully guaranteed, per a copy of the contract obtained by the Globe. His salary cap number was about $5.4 million.
Newton received a $2 million signing bonus and had a fully guaranteed base salary of $1.5 million. He also had a $100,000 offseason workout bonus. He could have made up to $1.5 million in per-game roster bonuses (over $88,000 for every game he is active).
The Patriots also have quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham on the roster, which must be trimmed to 53 players by 4 p.m. on Tuesday.