Newton headlines released NFL players

·2-min read

Cam Newton followed Mac Jones along the sideline, holding his right hand up, waiting for the rookie quarterback to slap it after the No.15 overall pick threw a touchdown in an NFL pre-season game on Sunday night.

Newton may as well have been congratulating Jones for taking his job.

The New England Patriots released Newton on Tuesday hours before NFL teams reduced rosters to 53 players.

Jones, the first QB selected in the first round during Bill Belichick's 22 seasons in New England, takes over after Newton was a one-year stop-gap after Tom Brady's departure.

Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, headlines the list of players now seeking a new team. He was 7-8 as a starter last season.

"He started at a much higher point than what he did last year, so definitely moving in the right direction," Belichick said of Newton on Monday.

A day later, he was moving out of Patriot Way.

"I really appreciate all the love and support during this time, but I must say please don't feel sorry for me!! (hash)imGOOD," Newton posted on Instagram Tuesday.

The Patriots' move means this could mark the second time since the NFL-AFL merger that more than two rookie quarterbacks started opening games.

Trevor Lawrence already has been named the starter in Jacksonville; Zach Wilson is projected to start for the Jets; and Jones is set for New England's opener against Miami on September 12.

Unvaccinated Newton started each of New England's three pre-season games, but he also missed five days of practice leading into Sunday's exhibition finale against the New York Giants after a "misunderstanding" of NFL COVID-19 protocols.

It's unknown whether that factored into New England's decision to let him go.

Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer said vaccination status was a consideration in their roster decisions.

"Everyone was considered. That was part of the production, let's start talking about this and also, 'Is he vaccinated or not?' Can I say that that was a decision-maker? It was certainly in consideration," Meyer said.

The Cleveland Browns, a legitimate title contender after so many miserable seasons, surprisingly released wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge - who has also been a valuable special teamer.

The Detroit Lions left themselves without a kicker, releasing Randy Bullock and Zane Gonzalez.

Some teams still hadn't announced their roster moves a couple hours after the deadline.

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