Newton remarked on his Patriots fallout, which ended with rookie Mac Jones being named starting quarterback, in his “Funky Friday” special on YouTube.
The veteran quarterback said he still thought he was going to be released from the team even after the coronavirus protocol issue that forced him to miss a few days of practice. He said he helped “ease the decision.” Newton recalled he was getting fewer reps with the first team at practice but said he would’ve been fine backing up Jones during the season.
However, he believed his shadow would’ve been an issue.
“The reason they released me is because, indirectly, I was going to be a distraction without being the starter,” the one-time NFL MVP said. “Just my aura. … That’s my gift and my curse. When you bring a Cam Newton to your facility, when you bring a Cam Newton to your franchise, people are interested.”
He said his style and the way he dresses draw eyeballs his way.
“Let me be honest with you. If they would’ve asked me would I play behind they say, ‘Cam, we gonna give the team to Mac. … You’re gonna be the second stringer. We expect you to be everything and some to guide him throughout this tenure,’ I woulda said absolutely.
“The truth of the matter is this, he woulda been uncomfortable.”
Newton did credit Jones for winning the job, saying the rookie proved to be “productive.”
The Patriots signed Newton in the middle of the 2020 offseason after nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers, and he was thrust into a nearly impossible situation. He had to fill the big gap left by Tom Brady departing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and had to deal with key players opting out over coronavirus concerns.
Newton himself also contracted coronavirus but only missed one game. In 15 games, he had 2,657 passing yards and had only eight touchdown passes. He added 592 yards on the ground and 12 rushing touchdowns. New England failed to make the playoffs, but the Patriots brought him back.
The three-time Pro Bowler was put into the heat of the competition with Jones in the preseason. The Patriots selected Jones in the first round of the draft and he showed out during the preseason. Jones had 389 passing yards and a touchdown pass. Newton finished with 162 passing yards and a touchdown pass.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Newton’s release on Tuesday.
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks on as offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels talks with quarterback Mac Jones during the first half of the team’s preseason NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
“It’s always difficult when you have to reduce your roster,” Belichick told WEEI Radio. “A lot of guys that worked hard. A lot of guys that performed well and had either good years for us, or good careers. I respect all those things, but each year is its own year and I have to do what I feel like is best for the football team and so regards to every decision, that’s what I try to do. It’s always tough to tell guys who have worked hard and have given you all they had that you’re not able to keep them.”
Belichick said he has “nothing but positive thoughts and feelings” for the 2015 league MVP.
“He came in here, he worked hard,” Belichick said of Newton. “He gave us everything we had. Right now, our future is going to be Mac [Jones] at quarterback, and that is where we’re going to go.”
Fox News’ Dan Canova contributed to this report.