In professional sports, it’s often said that the best ability is availability. And in the case of Cam Newton, he’s learned that despite his contributions on the field, the New England Patriots considered him (that’s past tense) a liability.
Much has been said about the NFL’s new protocols regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, but Newton’s reluctance to get vaccinated put him—and the Patriots—in a precarious situation. As we previously reported at The Root, the three-time Pro Bowler recently missed an important stretch of training camp due to a “misunderstanding” about testing requirements:
He’s also putting the Patriots at significant risk, as the NFL has informed teams that should unvaccinated players trigger COVID-19 outbreaks among their teammates and team personnel, the team is subject to the forfeiture of games. There are also reports that Cam’s refusal to get vaccinated has triggered a “level of frustration internally” within the team, and as its supposed leader, this ain’t a good look.
Additionally, considering his job was already up for grabs with rookie quarterback Mac Jones coming on strong, coupled with the fact that he previously missed time last season after contracting COVID-19, the Patriots apparently decided that Cam was too much of a liability to keep on the roster.
Sooooo they’ve cut him, per NFL insider Adam Schefter.
When you’re one of the best players in your sport, like Lamar Jackson, teams are far more willing to accommodate your reluctance to receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to your impact on the field. But when you’re a fringe starter like Newton, who struggled to execute the Patriots’ offense last season, extending grace isn’t exactly in the plans. Especially when you play for Bill Belichick, who’s notorious for ridding himself of premium talent if it doesn’t fit within New England’s plans moving forward.
On Instagram, Newton addressed his surprise release in stride.
“I really appreciate all the love and support during this time,” he wrote in his signature hieroglyphics. “But I must say...please don’t feel sorry for me!! I’m good.”
So what’s next for the 32-year-old former MVP? Word on the street is that the Cowboys are doing their “due diligence” after his release from the Patriots, but Twitter has its own thoughts on his next destination:
Aside from the Texans, who may or may not rid themselves of their embattled quarterback, Deshaun Watson—who’s in the midst of an ugly sexual assault investigation—Washington, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore are among other teams in play for Cam’s services. But while we wait to find out where he’ll will land, Twitter is torn between getting its jokes off at the former franchise quarterback’s expense and offering words of encouragement.
At this stage of his career, Cam might not be the player he used to be, but he’s still a dynamic player who can provide value at the quarterback position.
“Cam did his best job for us and competed extremely hard,” his former Patriots teammate, running back James White, said. “He’s a good football player. I hope he gets another opportunity to land on his feet.”
To that end, the Auburn product now has to decide if he’s ready to accept his fate as a backup quarterback moving forward, or enjoy the rest of this season from home like the rest of us.