Classic Bill Belichick.
The Patriots stunningly released Cam Newton on Tuesday, seemingly handing the keys to the franchise to rookie quarterback Mac Jones, the first rookie QB to start for the Pats since Drew Bledsoe in the 1993.
While reports indicated Cam Newton’s vaccination status played into his release in New England, Belichick, per usual, played it close to hoodie with his reasoning on releasing the veteran quarterback on Wednesday:
“I’m not gonna go through all the different things, with any player, on that,” Belichick said Wednesday regarding Newton’s release. “We’ll just leave it the way it is and go from there. … We make decisions and then we execute them and go on, and take it from there.”
While there was speculation that Newton’s stance as an unvaccinated player was responsible for the former MVP being cut, Belichick was definitive in his response:
“No,” he said, before expounding: “I mean, look, you guys keep talking about that, and I would just point out that — I don’t know what the number is, you guys can look it up. You have access to a lot of the information — the number of players and coaches and staff members that have been affected by COVID in this training camp, who have been vaccinated, is a pretty high number. I wouldn’t lose sight of that.”
It should be noted that vaccination status can’t be used as a reason to cut a player: This would prompt an NFLPA investigation (as is the case with Urban Meyer in Jacksonville, for example). Given the disparity in treatment and protocols between vaccinated and unvaccinated players, though, NFL head coaches are likely weighing that decision behind-the-scenes.
That said, Jones’ emergence this training camp made the decision a bit easier for Belichick to move on from Newton, a year after an up-and-down season with the Patriots. The 15th overall pick has impressed in camp and in preseason while under center.
Newton, a former NFL MVP, missed time while battling COVID-19 in 2020, and reports have indicated that he is yet to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
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