Cam Newton

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Newton, Jets

Midway through an up-and-down year with the Patriots, does Cam Newton want to return in 2021? The quarterback claims that he hasn’t given it much thought.

Man, I have interest in winning the Arizona Cardinals game. How about that?” Newton told WEEI (via NBC Sports). “There are so many things that — I don’t want to even harp, dwell, or even think – as the Bible says, my cup runneth over. Just trying to focus on the near future rather than the far future.”

Newton has led the Pats to wins over the Dolphins, Raiders, and Ravens this year, but he also has seven interceptions across nine games. All in all, he’s 4-5 as the Patriots’ starter. The Patriots haven’t missed the playoffs since 2008, and they’ll be in rough shape if Newton can’t deliver against the Cardinals this weekend.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • The Patriots had Stephon Gilmore back on the field against the Texans. The reason for his three-game absence? Gilmore says his knee injury occurred was caused by a collision in practice (via ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss). Fortunately, it looks like he’s healed up significantly, though his presence wasn’t enough for the Pats to win on Sunday.
  • The Jets are expected to do some defensive demolition this offseason, according to ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini. In fact, GM Joe Douglas could wind up with seven new starters — safeties Marcus Maye and Bradley McDougald; cornerbacks Pierre Desir and Brian Poole; and linebackers Tarell Basham, Jordan Jenkins, and Neville Hewitt are all ticketed for free agency. Maye is the best of the bunch, but the Jets have flirted with trading him in the past. Defensive lineman Henry Anderson is also on the chopping block, thanks to his $9.5MM cap figure for 2021.
  • Douglas will be in charge of the roster, but it’s not clear whether owner Woody Johnson or CEO Christopher Johnson will be running the show. As Cimini notes, Woody may be free to return from his ambassador role in January.
  • The Dolphins benched Tua Tagovailoa against the Broncos, but the star rookie will continue to start ahead of Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Patriots Notes: Gilmore, Newton, Edelman

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is usually tight-lipped when it comes to, well, just about everything, but he was quite candid in discussing his team’s struggles this season. The 2-4 Pats are in the midst of their first three-game losing streak since 2002, and Belichick suggested that one of his club’s goals in 2020 was to get right with the salary cap after years of heavy investments.

“This is kind of the year that we’ve taken to, I would say, adjust our cap from the spending that we’ve had in accumulation of prior years,” Belichick said (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com). “We just haven’t been able to have the kind of depth on our roster that we’ve had in some other years.”

In addition to their league-leading eight COVID-19 opt-outs, the Pats are carrying about $26MM of dead cap charges this season, and as Reiss indicated back in March, the club’s financial picture in 2021 is much brighter. New England may be taking its lumps in 2020, but it is still lurking in the AFC East and is eyeing a major rebound next year.

Now for more out of Foxborough:

  • Stephon Gilmore‘s name has come up in trade rumors, but Reiss says the Pats are not actively shopping their star corner, which is consistent with what we heard several days ago. However, the ESPN scribe suggests that Belichick could be willing to listen if a rival club were to offer a first- or second-round draft choice. Assuming that does not happen, then Gilmore is likely to finish out the season with New England. The two sides would need to address his contract situation at that point, as Gilmore is under club control through 2021 and will be seeking a healthy extension.
  • As of this writing, the Patriots have not done much to suggest that they will be sellers at this week’s trade deadline, but if they fall to the division-rival Bills today, that could change, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms.
  • QB Cam Newton was benched in a blowout loss to the 49ers last week, and though the time he missed due to COVID-19 certainly could explain his recent struggles, the Pats are still alarmed by the number of mistakes he’s making, per Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (video link). While Newton’s job is not in imminent danger, he could lose the starting gig if he does not turn it around soon.
  • New England’s WR depth chart, which is already quite thin, took another hit when Julian Edelman was placed on IR with a knee injury. Belichick said he expects the veteran pass catcher to be back this season, but several people close to Edelman have their doubts, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Edelman’s knee has been bothering him for awhile, and although his recent surgery helped alleviate some discomfort, the knee is still bone-on-bone. The Pats could save $4MM against the cap by moving on from the 34-year-old at season’s end, and one wonders if he might have played his last game for New England.
  • In an effort to bolster their WR group, the Pats plan to have veteran wideout Donte Moncrief come in for a workout, per Reiss (via Twitter). The former third-rounder has generally struggled to live up to expectations in his career, and he was recently released off the Jets’ practice squad. Given Gang Green’s own receiver issues, that’s not a good sign, but Moncrief is only 27 and still possesses plenty of physical tools.
  • In addition to Moncrief, the Pats are also bringing in fellow WR Darius Jennings and DT Ryan Glasgow, according to Reiss. Albert Breer of SI.com says the team recently hosted FB Roosevelt Nix (Twitter link).

Extra Points: Newton, Gase, Thomas

The Patriots took an ugly loss Sunday as they got demolished 33-6 by the visiting 49ers. Things got so bad that Jarrett Stidham came in and replaced Cam Newton somewhat early in the fourth quarter and played the rest of the game. Newton had just 98 yards and three interceptions before exiting, but he isn’t in any danger of losing his starting job at the moment. Head coach Bill Belichick said after the game that Newton was “absolutely” still his starter.

He added that he just wanted to get the youngster Stidham some more game experience by throwing him out there in a contest that was already decided. Newton now has five interceptions and no passing touchdowns over his past two games since returning from catching COVID-19. It’s unclear whether the virus messed with his conditioning or if anything else is ailing him, but his play has dropped off dramatically from his hot start as a member of the Patriots. Whatever the case, it doesn’t sound like Belichick is planning on making a switch under center anytime soon.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Adam Gase first conceded publicly that he was mulling giving up play-calling duties a couple of weeks ago, and he finally made the plunge on Sunday. Gase handed off the responsibilities to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains for their Week 7 game against the Bills, Brian Costello of the New York Post reports. New York got off to a hot start and they actually led Buffalo at halftime, before completely collapsing and only gaining four total yards in the second half. The last 30 minutes may have changed Gase’s mind, and he said after the game that play-calling will be a week to week decision. He also insisted the decision to give it up was his and his alone.
  • Major waves were made last week when we heard that the Saints could potentially be open to trading Michael Thomas in the wake of his antics that got him suspended for one game for fighting a teammate in practice, but it doesn’t sound like New Orleans’ leadership is seriously considering the idea. Head coach Sean Payton immediately responded to a tweet about the report, mocking the idea that actual ‘insiders’ said any such thing (link via Katherine Terrell of the Athletic). While Thomas probably won’t be dealt he is still hurt, and now Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that there’s a good chance Thomas isn’t ready for Week 8 against the Bears due to his hamstring injury. Thomas tweaked his hamstring while working his way back from the high ankle sprain he suffered back in Week 1. With Emmanuel Sanders on the COVID-19 list, the Saints could be without each of their top two wideouts still when they go up against a tough Chicago defense next week.
  • After rookie Sam Sloman has looked quite shaky to start the year, the Rams went out and signed kicker Kai Forbath earlier this week. But since Forbath wasn’t able to enter the facility until today due to COVID-19 protocols, he won’t be the kicker for their Monday Night Football game against the Bears. That means Sloman will have at least one more chance to prove he deserves the job. Under the bright lights of a nationally televised game with his competition breathing down his neck, the pressure will certainly be on.

Patriots Activate Cam Newton Off Reserve/COVID-19 List

3:49pm: Newton is on track to be back this week. The Patriots activated their QB1 from their reserve/COVID-19 list.

2:59pm: The Patriots seeing their Week 5 game against the Broncos delayed to Week 6 may well allow them to have their starting quarterback on the field. Cam Newton is expected to practice Thursday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

Newton learned Oct. 3 he tested positive for COVID-19, shelving him for Week 4 and delaying that Patriots-Chiefs game a day. The Pats then saw All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore and practice squad defensive tackle Bill Murray test positive. Another positive test prompted the NFL to move the Pats’ Week 5 game, which would have featured Jarrett Stidham starting for New England.

The Pats will only have two days of full practices this week; they will not return to work until Thursday. Newton had yet to test negative for two straight days, a requirement to return to practice, as of Sunday morning. The new Patriots quarterback has navigated that part of the protocol and will be back in uniform. Newton was believed to be asymptomatic.

Prior to his coronavirus-induced hiatus, Newton had rewarded the Pats on their offseason move. Despite arriving in late June, Newton helped the Pats to two wins, had completed 68% of his passes and averaged 49.1 rushing yards per game. The Patriots only needing to play one game without Newton would obviously be a boon to their chances at returning to the playoffs, though the former MVP will also need to stay healthy — something he has not done since his 2015 MVP season — to maximize his new team’s chances at securing postseason entry for the 12th straight season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots, Titans Close Facilities Again; Pats-Broncos Rescheduled

12:17pm: We have an update on Cam Newton to pass along. According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, Newton has yet to return the two consecutive negative tests required to return to action (video link). But now that the Pats’ game against the Broncos has been pushed to next week, he will have more time to get right.

10:37am: Assuming the Titans are able to play on Tuesday, the Broncos and Patriots will indeed play each other next Sunday, as Schefter tweets. The Broncos and Chargers will then play each other in Week 8, which was supposed to be when Denver had its bye, and the Dolphins will now play the Broncos in Week 11. However, the Jaguars have now been impacted by this mess, as they were supposed to play the Broncos in Week 8. So there is still more rearranging to be done.

08:35am: The Patriots had one new positive COVID-19 test this morning, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). It was a player who tested positive, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk says that player was starting DT Byron Cowart. The team’s facility has been shut down again, more testing is being done, and Cowart will be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list today.

Meanwhile, the Titans released a statement indicating that a coach tested positive. Their facility has been shut down as well, but as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports, that coach hasn’t been in the building for nearly two weeks (video link). As such, his positive test might be unrelated to the outbreak that has plagued the team, and contact tracing is being done as we speak.

New England and Tennessee just returned to their facilities yesterday after two consecutive days of negative tests. The Pats’ game against the Broncos this week had been pushed to Monday, and the Titans’ contest against the Bills was rescheduled for Tuesday, but now the Broncos-Patriots matchup has been moved to next Sunday (Twitter link via Schefter). New England and Denver will have their byes this week, and the league will need to reschedule the Broncos-Dolphins game that was originally slated for next week.

We heard several days ago that new positive tests were expected on the Patriots and Titans given the results of contact tracing on both clubs. The league was clear that additional positives would not necessarily mean the cancellation of games, and initial reports this morning indicated that the NFL still planned to move forward with Broncos-Pats tomorrow (Twitter link via Schefter).

However, a decision needed to be made quickly given that the Broncos were scheduled to make a cross-country flight to Foxborough today. Plus, Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston says the Pats were not going to let the league compel them to play, and that if players and coaches are uncomfortable, they will not play (Twitter link).

Given the on-going contact tracing taking place within the Tennessee organization, there is not yet an official word from the league as to the Titans-Bills game. Since the Titans have already lost their bye week, the NFL will presumably want to move forward with that contest. Even if that happens, though, it seems that a Week 18 for rescheduled games around the league is becoming more and more realistic.

As always, we will keep you updated as soon as we have more to pass along.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots, Titans Expected To Return To Team Facilities Today

Some good news out of New England and Tennessee. NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reports (via Twitter) that there have been no positive tests for the Patriots nor Titans during their respective latest round of COVID-19 testing. As a result, both teams are planning on opening their facilities today.

The Titans had all negative tests for the second day in a row, meaning they could safely return to the practice field this morning. Over the past few weeks, the team has placed a dozen players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and their game against the Steelers last weekend was postponed indefinitely. This week’s contest against the Bills has been moved to Tuesday night.

The Patriots have also gone two days in a row without a positive test. The team’s expecting to hold a team practice this morning, and they’ll hold a walkthrough on Sunday in anticipation of their game against the Broncos on Monday. That game was moved from Sunday after star cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive earlier this week.

It’s been a week since Patriots quarterback Cam Newton tested positive, but it’s uncertain if he’ll see the field against Denver on Monday night. New England head coach Bill Belichick told reporters that he doesn’t expect Newton to practice today, noting that he’s taking the player’s status “day-by day” and “hour-by-hour.” If Newton can’t play, it’s expected that the Patriots will turn to second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jarrett Stidham To Start For Pats If Cam Newton Is Unavailable

The Patriots are currently scheduled to play the Broncos on Monday, and if starting QB Cam Newton is unable to take the field, New England will turn to second-year passer Jarrett Stidham, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (via Twitter). Newton has been taking part in Zoom meetings with the team, and there is still hope that he will be able to suit up.

Of course, Newton’s positive COVID-19 test sidelined him for last week’s matchup against the Chiefs, and though New England’s defense generally held its own against Patrick Mahomes & Co., the club was clearly missing the 2015 league MVP. The Pats turned to veteran Brian Hoyer to start the game, but Hoyer lost track of his team’s timeouts at the end of the first half, and he lost a fumble late in the third quarter. Both mistakes likely cost New England points.

Hoyer was benched in favor of Stidham, and the Auburn product kept the Pats in the game on a nice TD pass to N’Keal Harry, but he ultimately threw two interceptions in just 13 pass attempts (though to be fair, one of them was really receiver Julian Edelman‘s fault, and the other came on something of a desperation heave that Stidham might not have tried but for the score of the game at that point). Given that Stidham, a 2019 fourth-round selection, clearly offers more upside than Hoyer, it makes sense that the Pats would look his way.

Of course, Stidham appeared to be the leading candidate to open the 2020 season as the Patriots’ starting signal-caller until Newton fell into their laps at the end of June. Then, a disappointing training camp that included some injury concerns forced the team to slide Stidham behind Hoyer on the depth chart. Stidham will surely welcome the opportunity to rebuild his stock if Newton has to sit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Newton, Dolphins, Jets

Cam Newton was reported Monday to be asymptomatic after his positive COVID-19 test, and with nothing changing on that front Tuesday, the Patriots quarterback could return to practice as soon as Thursday. While no other players on New England’s active roster tested positive, the team placed practice squad defensive tackle Bill Murray on its reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday. Murray did not make the trip to Kansas City, per NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran (on Twitter), but Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio notes the young defender did stay at the hotel near Gillette Stadium with teammates previously.

Here is the latest from the AFC East, moving first to the Dolphins’ quarterback situation:

  • Brian Flores did not commit to Ryan Fitzpatrick receiving a fifth start when asked earlier this week, but the Dolphins‘ second-year head coach did so Tuesday. Fitzpatrick will start against the 49ers. Flores said Tua Tagovailoa‘s 2019 hip injury remains a factor in the Dolphins’ decision-making. The former Alabama prodigy’s past injury issues have helped keep Fitzpatrick in the lineup. Fitz has thrown four touchdown passes, five interceptions and interestingly holds the league’s No. 9 QBR figure (75.3). But with questions about Fitzpatrick’s job status taking place before Week 5, Tagovailoa will surely make his debut this season.
  • Before ultimately deciding on the Giants, Logan Ryan was squarely on the Jets‘ radar. The most recent report indicated Jets GM Joe Douglas nixed a Ryan agreement because it leaked to the media, with contract demands almost certainly playing a role as well, but Ryan said during a radio interview with WFAN the Jets did not make an offer (Twitter link). Ryan estimated he talked to nearly every team this offseason, one in which he was a free agent for more than five months. Barring a Giants extension, the veteran defensive back is slated to be a free agent again in 2021.
  • The Jets did not plan on using injured left tackle Mekhi Becton last week, but replacement Chuma Edoga going down in the first quarter prompted them to reinsert their ailing starter into the lineup. Adam Gase said the nature of Becton’s injury would have prevented him from making it worse, calling it a pain-tolerance issue. The Louisville alum is said to be dealing with a capsule issue in his shoulder, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. This pertains to the ligament surrounding the shoulder joint. Becton played just 17 snaps in Week 4. The first-round pick has played well when healthy but has seen this injury stall his development.
  • Gang Green may be without its left tackle and starting quarterback in Week 5. The Jets are not expected to play Sam Darnold against the Cardinals, with the team on track to proceed with caution after the quarterback was slammed to turf during the Jets’ loss to the Broncos.

Titans, Patriots Have No New COVID-19 Positives

The Titans received no new positive tests for the second straight day, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Patriots received good news as well — three days after Cam Newton‘s diagnosis, no one else on the team has tested positive for COVID-19 (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter).

With two straight days of zero positives, the Titans may be able to reopen their facilities on Wednesday. The Titans have been barred from holding in-person activities since Sept. 29. Later that week, the NFL postponed their scheduled Week 4 game against the Steelers.

The NFL is ramping up the pressure on teams to follow COVID-19 protocols and contain potential outbreaks. On Monday, the league office informed clubs that they could be forced to forfeit games if an outbreak occurs due to lax internal standards.

The Patriots’ game against the Chiefs was played as scheduled on Monday night, though things didn’t exactly go according to plan. With Brian Hoyer under center for the first three quarters and Jarrett Stidham finishing out the game, the Chiefs rolled to a 26-10 victory. Meanwhile, Newton was said to be asymptomatic as of Monday, a promising sign for his recovery and eventual return.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

COVID-19 Latest: Titans, Pats, Newton

After three blissfully uneventful weeks in the NFL — at least as far as COVID-19 is concerned — the virus has begun to rear its ugly head. Let’s get you up to date with all the pandemic-related happenings in the league:

  • One more Titans player and one more Tennessee personnel member tested positive, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, bringing the total to 20 positive tests (10 players and 10 personnel). Since the Titans have now had positive tests on six straight days, the soonest they could reopen their facilities would be Wednesday, October 7 (Twitter link via Schefter). Tennessee is scheduled to play the Bills next Sunday, October 11.
  • Schefter says in a full-length piece that the league and union are investigating whether the Titans violated COVID-19 protocols, and the team has been asked to turn over multiple videotapes of team activities. At least one source believes Tennessee failed to follow the protocols, and if that turns out to be true, the club could face punishment in the form of fines or draft pick forfeiture. Another source thinks that the league will ultimately look to make an example out of the Titans.
  • Luckily, no other team had a positive test from yesterday’s round of testing, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network observes (via Twitter). That includes the Patriots and Chiefs, both of whom recently had a player test positive (starting QB Cam Newton of New England, and practice squad QB Jordan Ta’amu of Kansas City). But as Schefter cautions, the virus has an incubation period, and Newton was in the huddle all week with teammates (Twitter link). There will be another round of testing today, but if the tests come back negative, the plan is to have the Pats and Chiefs play each other on Monday night, per Dianna Russini of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Newton, of course, will miss that game, and his availability for Week 5 is also in doubt.
  • There was a scare last night when ProFootballTalk reported (via Twitter) that a Saints player had tested positive. Subsequent reports indicated that the player was fullback Michael Burton, but as Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football tweeted, Burton’s retest came back negative, so the Saints’ game against the Lions will go on today as scheduled.
  • Hopefully the league will be able to recover from these scares, but Mark Maske of the Washington Post says the NFL is looking into the possibility of adding a Week 18 to the regular season schedule to accommodate postponed games (Twitter link). ProFootballTalk adds that multiple coaches have discussed the possibility of temporarily suspending the season, reconfiguring the schedule to allow for 12 total games, and then putting teams in hotels for the nine games that would remain (Twitter link).
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the league will hold a mandatory phone call for coaches, GMs, and owners tomorrow to discuss penalties for violating COVID-19 protocols. La Canfora says in a separate piece that the league is also considering playoff bubbles.