While the Tennessee Titans have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak this week, another team may be in some trouble. On Saturday morning, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for the coronavirus, and will miss Sunday's matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora confirms Newton will be heading to the COVID-19 reserve list. The Patriots have reportedly been conducting mass testing and re-testing, and there has been no spread so far.
After a report emerged that Chiefs practice squad quarterback Jordan Ta'amu Tuesday sounds more likely than Monday., the league announced that the Patriots-Chiefs game would not be played Sunday and instead "rescheduled until Monday or Tuesday after positive COVID-19 tests on both teams." Schefter reports that one source said
If Patriots-Chiefs is able to be played on Tuesday, that would give each team five days to prepare for their Week 5 matchups. The Patriots are scheduled to host the Broncos next Sunday, while the Chiefs are slated to host the Raiders, also on Sunday. The two Week 4 competitors do not share a bye week, with the Patriots scheduled to take Week 6 off and the Chiefs not on a bye until Week 10.
The Patriots released a statement confirming they had a player test positive for COVID-19 but did not name said player.
"Late last night, we received notice that a Patriots player tested positive for COVID-19. The player immediately entered self-quarantine. Several additional players, coaches and staff who have been in close contact with the player received point of care tests this morning and all were negative for COVID-19.
We are in close consultation with the NFL, as well as our team of independent doctors and specialists, and will follow their guidance regarding our scheduled trip to Kansas City and game against the Chiefs. The health and safety of our team, as well as our opponent, are of highest priority."
In three games for the Patriots, Newton has completed 68.1 percent of his passes for 714 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He's made a considerable impact on the ground, however, as he has rushed 35 times for 149 yards and four touchdowns. The veteran quarterback inked a minimum one-year deal with the club this past summer that has a base salary of just $1.05 million.
Bill Belichick will now have to make the decision if he wants to start Brian Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham under center whenever the game is played, and NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reports that Belichick will go with Hoyer as his starter. The Patriots were supposed to leave for Kansas City at 1 p.m. ET, but Schefter reports that the flight will not leave on time. Patriots players headed home from the facility prior to noon ET. All options appear to be on the table, as the Patriots could fly later today ('No way," one source told Schefter) or they could leave on Sunday. Unfortunately, it's possible the game could be postponed.
If you're looking for a fantasy quarterback replacement for this week (and maybe for the foreseeable future), CBS Sports Fantasy expert Dave Richard has you covered, along with how to handle the postponed game in general.
"The best replacement for Newton for this week, at least in my eyes, is Ryan Fitzpatrick (43% rostered). He's played very well the past two weeks and takes on the league's worst-rated pass defense in the Seahawks. He might have outperformed Newton anyway. The next two best quarterbacks you might find on waivers who could put up big numbers are Baker Mayfield (57% rostered) and Kirk Cousins (40%)."
It's important to note that the incubation period for the virus is typically 3-7 days. That means that we unfortunately could see more positive tests in the coming days, such as with what has happened in Nashville with the Titans. According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, the Patriots players know that this is now a league issue, not a team issue. Everyone was told to stay home and wait by their phones for further word. Players were told they could potentially leave for Kansas City today, Sunday, Monday or perhaps even later.
Newton did not seem symptomatic according to La Canfora, other than a few coughs. As CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones notes, if a player tests positive and shows not symptoms, he cannot return unless and until 10 days have passed since the initial positive test or five days have passed since the initial positive test and two consecutive negative PCR virus tests are registered separated by 24 hours. Additionally, the return has to be approved by the club physician, after consultation with ICS and the NFL's chief medical officer. Finally, local regulations and requirements must be satisfied before the player can return.