It was a tough day around the NFL for every player who got the news they'd be released from their respective team as clubs worked to cut down rosters ahead of the 4 p.m. deadline, but it was one cut in particular that stole headlines Tuesday: the New England Patriots releasing quarterback Cam Newton. The move sent shockwaves throughout the league and effectively makes rookie first-round pick Mac Jones the official successor to Tom Brady. For Newton, there are still that could make sense for him in 2021 assuming he still wants to play.
If he does, some are already speculating about a possible reunion with Ron Rivera -- current head coach of the Washington Football Team who was once the longtime coach of the Carolina Panthers. But while Newton and Rivera nearly won a Super Bowl together in Carolina, with the former garnering NFL MVP honors that season (2015), it doesn't appear the latter is interested in renewing vows.
"[His release] did pop up on our radar, but just so you know, Ryan Fitzpatrick is our starting quarterback," Rivera said, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post. "So that's where we are. We have three guys we like that all came to camp [who] did a nice job for us and we're going to go forward with those guys."
And that's seemingly that, with Rivera succinctly shutting down any thoughts of Newton heading to Washington.
It isn't exactly shocking to see Rivera close the door on the possibility, considering he didn't want Newton to follow him from Carolina when Washington offered him the head coaching job in 2020. One year later, Newton's attempt to revive his career with the Patriots has ended unceremoniously and includes a less-than-stellar stat line that now appears as a black eye on an otherwise glowing overall professional career -- creating questions on if Newton has much tread left on his tires. This isn't exactly appealing to Rivera, despite his familiarity with Newton and even if Fitzpatrick has not had as much success.
It's also fair to wonder if Newton being unvaccinated comes into play a bit here, considering Washington has had one of the worst player vaccination rates in the entire league in 2021 -- leading Rivera (a cancer survivor) to rail against those on his roster who he feels are putting his health (and that of others) at risk. But you probably won't ever hear him make the PR mistake you heard Tuesday from Urban Meyer in Jacksonville, who admitted that vaccination status was a part of considering who made the Jaguars final roster.
Regardless of the reasoning, there will be no QB controversy to start the season in Washington. And if there eventually is, it likely will not include Newton.
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