In a YouTube video released Friday, Cam Newton said the New England Patriots cut him on Aug. 31 because he would have been a “distraction” as the team’s backup quarterback and said he felt “bamboozled” because the Patriots knew he would have to miss five days of practice when they allowed him to leave the team to receive a second opinion on the foot injury he suffered in 2019.

“Can we be honest? The reason why they released me is because indirectly I was going to be a distraction, without being the starter. … Just my aura. … That’s my gift and my curse,” he said, adding that he would have accepted a role as New England’s backup quarterback.

“I would have said, ‘Absolutely,’ ” Newton said.

Newton, a 10-year NFL veteran and the 2015 NFL MVP, also said he was not getting “retirement vibes” after getting released at the age of 32, but he admitted to being caught off-guard when he was cut.

“Did it catch me by surprise, being released? Absolutely,” he said in an interview with his father, Cecil Newton Sr.

The Patriots’ decision to cut Newton in favor of rookie Mac Jones on the final day of roster trims was indeed seen as something of a surprise, given that New England Coach Bill Belichick had previously called Newton the Patriots’ starter, that Newton had been leading the first-team offense in practice and that Newton had started New England’s final preseason game Aug. 29.

“How is it that you take first-team reps in practice and in the final preseason game?” Newton’s father asked him. “I kept hearing (Belichick) saying, ‘Cam’s our starter.’ When did some of that start changing? How did we get from the Day One starter to sitting where we’re sitting?”

Newton’s response: “I don’t know. … But during that time, I started seeing signs of change.”

The Patriots allowed Newton to leave their training facility in late August for a “checkup” on his previous foot injury, forcing Newton to be separated from the team for five days upon his return under the NFL’s coronavirus protocols even though he tested negative for the coronavirus. (The five-day separation only applies to unvaccinated players.) In a statement, the Patriots said there had been “a misunderstanding about tests conducted away from NFL facilities.”

While saying he didn’t think his five-day separation was the main impetus for his release, Newton said it gave the Patriots more reason to release him.

“Do I think this would have happened without me being away from the team for five days? Honestly, yes. It was going to happen,” Newton said in the interview. “Did it help ease the decision? Yes.”

Still, Newton said the Patriots shared blame for his five-day separation.

“To find out I had to sit out, that’s when I kind of felt bamboozled, because y’all told me to go,” he said, adding that he “absolutely” would not have taken the trip had he known it would cause him to miss five days of practice.

Newton also said his release “had nothing to do with no vaccination.”

The Patriots drafted Jones out of Alabama with the 15th pick in this year’s NFL draft and then went on a spending spree in free agency as they attempt to rebound from their first non-playoff season since 2008. Newton started 15 games and threw only eight touchdown passes with 10 interceptions but also rushed for 12 scores, and in the interview he admitted struggling with Josh McDaniels’s offense, a vastly different scheme than what he ran with the Carolina Panthers from 2011 to 2019. Newton also said he had become much more familiar with the Patriots’ offensive ways in the offseason and during training camp.

Newton said Jones “didn’t beat me out” and said Jones received much more time to prepare for the season in the months after the draft than Newton had in 2020, when he had only weeks to learn the Patriots’ system after signing with them as a free agent in early July. But he also said Jones “proved that he can be productive and will be productive.”

“They’re going to win football games with Mac Jones,” Newton said.

To which his father responded, “They were going to win football games with you, too.”

“That’s a fact, too,” Newton said.

INJURY REPORT: Malcolm Perry was a surprise absence at Friday’s walkthrough and won’t make his Patriots debut Sunday due to a foot injury. Coach Bill Belichick had actually claimed the gadget player from the Dolphins when he was waived earlier this month, but there will be no revenge game to open the season.

After sitting out Thursday’s practice, Nelson Agholor (ankle) and Jalen Mills (ankle) both returned Friday and were ruled questionable. Presumed starters on both sides of the ball, the Patriots will have holes to fill if they’re not ready to go.

If Agholor is sidelined Sunday, the Patriots will have Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne in the top two wide receiver spots, with either Gunner Olszewski or a practice squad member getting snaps in three receiver sets. On defense, Joejuan Williams seems most likely to slot into Mills’ outside cornerback spot if the veteran doesn’t suit up.

Yodny Cajuste (hamstring) and Ronnie Perkins (shoulder) are both also questionable.

WHEN ROOKIE quarterback Mac Jones makes his first start against Miami on Sunday, he will be battling nerves, not to mention battling the Dolphins, who blitz a lot and are going to come after him.

His teammates plan on doing whatever possible, to help lesson his load.

“I feel like I’ve had a first game. I know the jitters, I know the nerves that come with it. There’s a lot of pressure on his shoulders,” said receiver Jakobi Meyers. “Hopefully, I can sit there and be somebody he can rely on, help take some of the nerves off and ease his role. Being steady hands for him, whatever he needs. We’re all going to pull together and get him through this, because it’s all of our first game of the year. We’ll make it work.”

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower also spoke about trying to help the rookie quarterback adapt and adjust, and ease the burden.

“You don’t want to put too much on Mac’s plate. As good as he is, you don’t want to stunt his growth by putting too much on his plate,” said Hightower, one of the team’s defensive captains. “That’s where a lot of us older guys come in, whether it be David (Andrews), Trent (Brown) or Shaq (Mason) on the offensive side, or me, Dev (McCourty) and AP (Adrian Phillips) or (Ja’Whaun) Bentley or (Kyle) Van Noy or (Matt) Judon or (Matthew) Slater … as fast as he’s growing, you just want to help him, and not put too much on his plate.

“Everybody else is going to demand a lot out of him,” Hightower added, “so we’re going to do our job, and take as much as we can off him.”

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.