Here’s a look at this morning’s edition:
1) Heading into the start of the training camp, how things play out at the quarterback position will obviously be one of the biggest stories for the Patriots, but the more I think about it, the more I’m starting to believe that it’s probably going to be Cam Newton-or-bust by the time Week 1 arrives.
Newton, who finished the most recent group of practices fairly strong, has already admitted that he’s seen the writing on the wall in terms of where the former Alabama standout fits in. He knows that Jones will likely be the future of this franchise, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s here now and appears to have enough support to retain the job for at least another season.
Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels have the luxury of having Jones in the fold for at least the next four years, which means there’s no need to rush things. If Newton can string together a strong number of practices during training camp and continue showing improvement, the likelihood of him being the starter on opening day seems strong, especially considering that even despite his issues last season, Belichick never wavered in his support for the veteran.
That likely means that he’ll stay true to his word and give Newton every opportunity to lose the job before Jones eventually gets his shot. That being said, Newton may not get quite as much leeway as he had last season. If Jones continues to improve and looks even better in late August than he does now, losing three or four in a row (which happened last season) and being ineffective in the passing game probably won’t fly this time around.
But if they’re moving the ball and scoring points and Newton is doing enough to get it done, that should be enough to keep him entrenched as the starter, even if it’s not pretty. If he struggles and strings together a few bad performances and they lose games they shouldn’t, it could be a different story.
Either way, to this point, as great as Jones has been so far, in all likelihood Newton will be the starter on opening day unless he completely falls apart during training camp. We’ve certainly seen and heard enough from Belichick to know that he’ll get every opportunity to keep the job. After all, that was evident last year when Belichick opted to not give Jarrett Stidham a chance to start, even despite how bad things were down the stretch.
As a result, as excited as everyone is to see what Jones can do in a regular-season game, it would be surprising to see Belichick take the job from Newton unless training camp is a disaster. However, it doesn’t change the fact with Jones coming on strong, he’ll need to be better than he was last season to make sure it stays that way.
2) One interesting comment came from Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal, who said that Jarrett Stidham had one day where he dominated and “arguably was the second-best passer on the other five days”.
Daniels points out that Stidham was the most consistent among the quarterbacks during the spring and believes that it’s a little early to count him out.
Don’t count Jarrett Stidham out, either. Stidham was the most consistent among the QBs this spring. A practice never went by without Stidham looking like the best or second best quarterback on the roster.
Sure, he had one day where he dominated, but arguably was the second best passer on the other five days. He completed 72% of his passes (49/68) in front of the media. Can Stidham beat out Newton for the starting job?
Who will be the starting quarterback? In order for it not to be Newton, he would have to struggle mightily throughout training camp. If he looks bad, there is an argument for Stidham to start in order to give Jones a year to learn the Patriots’ system.
It’s an interesting thought, but it’s tough to see things playing out that way. Newton would likely have to be so bad during camp that he wasn’t on the roster by opening day, largely due to the fact that the Patriots may not want to carry four quarterbacks into the season.
However, Stidham raising his stock certainly could work out well for the Patriots. A lot can happen during training camp and, as we’ve mentioned previously, New England recouping a draft pick for a former 4th-round pick they don’t need wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.
3) The Patriots released one of the three kickers they had during minicamps, with Roberto Aguayo getting released on Thursday after a rough stretch. With Quinn Nordin coming on strong and Nick Folk still looking fairly consistent as usual, Aguayo didn’t have much margin for error and he had several misses that were notable, including a 35-yarder that sailed wide at the end of the club’s final practice.
That was likely the nail in the coffin for the former Florida State standout, who obviously didn’t do enough to keep himself on the roster. Meanwhile, Nordin was reportedly impressive as many within the media noted that he hits the ball with a lot of power and has shown great accuracy. That’s been the only knock against Folk, who has been consistent but hasn’t shown the leg strength to consistently hit long kicks.
However, Folk was better in that area last season. He hit 13-of-15 from 40+ (including 2-of-3 from 50+ yards) after hitting only 5-of-8 from 40+ in 2019, including 4-of-7 from 40-49 yards, with just one kick (which he made) from 50+. Whether or not he’s added any power hasn’t really been talked about, but we’ll have to see how that plays out next month.
Needless to say, heading into training camp, this will quietly be another competition to keep an eye on, and it should be fun to see if Nordin can do enough to fight his way onto the roster.
4) Out in Cleveland, the Browns picked up Baker Mayfield’s fifth-year option for 2022 this offseason, which is worth $18.86 million but there haven’t been any talks yet on a contract extension.
Mayfield is coming off a terrific season where he led the Browns to an 11-5 record and then followed it up with knocking the Steelers out of the playoffs. Now the goal is to build off of that performance and hopefully take Cleveland one step further this year, which is all he’s currently worried about.
“I’m in no rush because I’m just trying to win games,” said Mayfield via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “It’ll handle itself. I’m sure [his agents} Tom and Jack Mills are handling that. I don’t try and feed to much into that because that’s wasting my time and energy and thought process on stuff that I’m not in control of right now. So I’m going to handle what I can control.”
While his salary is set for this season, the hope would obviously be for the two sides to reach a deal to extend him for the foreseeable future. He may not have any security beyond this year, but Mayfield said he’s perfectly fine and has enough confidence in himself where it’s not a concern.
“I’ve bet on myself my whole life and I’ve always taken it one day at a time, one play at a time,’’ he said. “I’m not going to handle it any differently now.”
5) With Aaron Rodgers still sitting out, the Packers spent minicamp with the majority of reps going to Jordan Love, who head coach Matt LaFleur has apparently been pleased with.
The Packers head coach has invested additional time in Love since Rodgers has been away, trying to treat this the way that all quarterbacks in this position would need to. He’s reminded Love that in the NFL, you always need to be ready and he’s happy with how he’s seen him respond.
“It’s the same message it’s been all the time is you’re only one play away, so you always have to prepare like you’re the starter,” LaFleur said via ESPN. “And just to be very intentional about the work that you put in, to go out there with a purpose. To be mindful and in the moment. Every rep for him is so critical, whether it’s on air, on his own or it’s with us in 11-on-11 situations and he’s getting that constant coaching. And I think he’s done a great job of embracing just the whole situation, embracing learning from every rep.
“One thing we talked about after Tuesday’s practice is, ‘Hey man, you’re going to have some great days and you’re going to have some days that aren’t as great. And you’ve got to be able to ride that wave. You’re never too high, you’re never too low and just making sure that you learn from each and every rep.’ And I think he’s done a really good job of that.”
As for any type of resolution between Rodgers and the Packers, there doesn’t seem to be anything on the horizon. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said on Thursday night that there may not be much progress seen between the two sides and he said to “Buckle Up” for what should be an interesting few weeks heading into training camp.
“We do not know what the future holds for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, [it is] a ‘beautiful mystery’, as a famous quarterback once said,” said Rapoport, referring to a previous quote by Rodgers about his future. “Everybody is going to go away for the summer now. I’d be surprised if there was any hardcore negotiations over the course of the next couple of weeks.”
“To me, and based on the people I’ve spoken with, this is really something that will be wrapped up either way if they do find the solution that Green Bay has wanted, if Aaron Rodgers does get the security that he wants potentially in the form of a new contract. Probably not going to happen until the start of training camp. So everyone probably needs to buckle up for a couple weeks, and enjoy the summer as well.”
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Aaron Rodgers Baker Mayfield Cam Newton Cleveland Browns Green Bay Packers Jarrett Stidham Mac Jones New Enlgand Patriots Nick Folk Quinn Nordin Roberto Aguayo