NFL: Washington Football Team at New England Patriots
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There's always a surprise or several when all 32 NFL teams are forced to carve down their rosters at the end of each August, and this time it was Cam Newton getting some unexpected news. The New England Patriots sent the former league MVP packing Tuesday, ending his short stint with the club and effectively coronating rookie first-round pick Mac Jones as the heir to Tom Brady going into the 2021 season. By all accounts, Jones led the QB1 race for much (if not all) of camp while Newton had two poor preseason outings that helped make the Patriots decision for them. 

And while head coach Bill Belichick contends Newton being unvaccinated played no part in the move, the 32-year-old was recently banned from the team's facility for five days due to a miscommunication with COVID-19 testing protocols -- further opening the door for Jones, even if only by way of added first-team practice reps.

In the end, the Patriots are now Jones' team, and on Wednesday, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels explained why.

"When you look at the whole body of work since he's gotten here, he's been well-prepared each day to come in and do the things we ask our players to do," McDaniels said of Jones, via Mike Giardi of NFL Network. " ... He's improved. He's generally taken care of the football."

As for Newton?

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a player, as a human being," McDaniels said. "He knows how I feel about him. He did everything he could to try and help us win."

It wasn't enough, though. Newton finished his first season as Patriots starter with a 7-8 record that included 10 interceptions to only eight touchdowns -- a career-low TD tally by a massive margin. His lack of production rolled over into this year's preseason games, where Newton posted one promising outing but two forgettable ones, and that includes having thrown for only 10 yards and completing just two of his five pass attempts (with an interception and no TDs) against the New York Giants in the preseason finale. 

In that same contest, Jones passed for 156 yards and a touchdown with no INTs, basically nailing Newton's coffin in the process.

"Really feel confident about [Jones'] approach." McDaniels said. "[He] tries not to make the same mistake twice. He's really shown a strong aptitude at a young age to put those mistakes behind him."

If Newton can find another NFL home, he'll have to rediscover how to do the same.

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The Mac Jones era in New England has begun following the stunning release of Cam Newton. How will the rookie fare this season and what does it mean for the rest of the Patriots' players? Download the CBS Sports app to find out! Plus, get insight from our resident Patriots insider, Tyler Sullivan. If you already have the CBS Sports app, make sure to pick the Patriots as your favorite team for up-to-the-minute news.