The Patriots shocked the NFL on Tuesday morning by releasing veteran quarterback and presumed starter Cam Newton.
Even though rookie first-round pick Mac Jones played well in the preseason, conventional thinking had Newton as the starter to begin the year.
Instead, Jones, the No. 15 overall pick in this year’s draft, has been handed the reins immediately. He was listed with +225 odds to win the starting quarterback job last week and those who took that bet have to be happy.
Now the former Alabama quarterback is flying up the board for the best odds to win the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Jones was listed at +1000 previously and now is +600, according to DraftKings on Aug. 31. Jones has the second-best odds among rookies on offense behind only No. 1 overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mac Jones is now +600 to win Offensive Rookie of the Year 👀 pic.twitter.com/h6XlYdeHdE
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) August 31, 2021
Jones had a stellar season at Alabama last year, but there were enough questions about his NFL viability that he slipped down to the Patriots in the draft.
Quarterbacks Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance and Justin Fields all went before him, but now Jones will have an immediate chance to show he can find success in the NFL. He finished the preseason with a Pro Football Focus grade of 92.2, which was best among the rookie quarterbacks.
The Patriots finished 7-9 last year in their first campaign without longtime superstar quarterback Tom Brady. The offense was a major culprit, as Newton had trouble moving the team efficiently down the field.
Newton looked more comfortable this preseason, but he was sidelined for several days last week after violating COVID-19 testing protocols. Jones took advantage of his time with the starters, and coach Bill Belichick clearly saw enough from his young signal-caller.
New England added wide receiver Nelson Agholor and tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith to the skill corps this offseason, so Jones should have some weapons to find in the passing game. The Patriots’ defense added some major reinforcements this offseason and has looked impressive in the preseason.
New England already had the look of a team that could turn things around this season, and if Jones can find early success, a return to the playoffs could be in the cards.