Mac Jones to the Patriots: it’s Cam Newton’s show for now, but the rookie will end up stealing it | Chris Mason


Bill Belichick may be entering his 47th season as an NFL coach, but he still managed to break new ground on Thursday night.

For the first time in his career as a decision maker, Belichick won a quarterback in the first round. When Mac Jones moved from presumed third place overall in the New England Tour to 15th, the Patriots pounced on reigning national champion Alabama. Patience with the editorial board has paid off. The quarterback was their greatest need and New England didn’t need to trade to catch a top caller.

Then, during a videoconference around midnight on the East Coast, Belichick offered a bit of information without asking.

“Cam (Newton) is our quarterback,” he said in a neutral tone.

It was a line Belichick repeated in the home stretch last season when asked about Jarrett Stidham’s status, and the coach was flawless in his position. Newton was his starter.

But what does this mean at the end of April? Will Newton get the team’s first reps when training camp opens? Does he have the reins all season? How long does “Cam is our quarterback” last in 2021?

“I don’t know,” Belichick replied. “Someone should play better than him.”

The rookie certainly received this memo as well.

“I actually join a really good quarterback with Cam Newton, who’s been in the NFL for a very long time. He has earned the respect of his teammates, going to New England, as captain, ”Jones said. “And then you have Jarrett, who I really loved watching in Auburn and sort of used as a model. So these two guys are role models for me right now and I’m just going to follow them and learn how they did it.

“Cam is awesome and I’ve only heard great things talking to people I know about the Patriots being a guy and everyone likes them. He’s just having fun with it, and so am I. So hopefully we can have fun together and help him out. I mean, this is his show and I’m just here to support him and then help the team in any way I can.

So this is Newton’s gig for now, but with Jones in the fold, the Patriots have finally put in place a real post-Tom-Brady succession plan. The Alabama quarterback will be under contract for the next four seasons – and a fifth if the Patriots choose him – so the keys to the kingdom will ultimately be his. It’s still Foxborough though: Jones is going to have to win them.

“He’s a smart kid,” Belichick said. “He was in a system similar to ours. We had a lot of good conversations with him. I think he will be able to deal with the offense. This is obviously going to take a long time … whatever time Jarrett or Mac is ready to challenge and compete, then we’ll see how it goes. But for now, Mac, he just has a lot to learn ahead of him.

It could come at training camp, week 1, week off, or even 2022, but at some point Jones will be the guy. And with a first-round pick invested – No.15, nothing less – the Patriots certainly believe there can be a long-term answer.

Life after Brady started with Newton, and the Patriots consistently say it’s his show right now, but sooner or later Jones is going to steal it.

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