If the New England Patriots play the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday or Tuesday, Cam Newton won't be their quarterback.
That much is certain after the Patriots placed Newton on their COVID-19/reserve list Saturday. But how long will New England's QB be sidelined for, and could he miss more than one game?
That depends on Newton's health, of course -- specifically whether he's feeling symptoms of the virus after receiving a positive test Friday.
The NFL sent all 32 teams a detailed flow chart of how to deal with positive COVID-19 tests back in July that lays out what a player must do to return to action after being exposed to COVID-19.
What does this flow chart mean for Newton? Here are the three scenarios for the QB's return, depending on whether he's asymptomatic or displaying symptoms of COVID-19:
- If Newton is asymptomatic, he can return five days after his initial positive test IF he returns two consecutive negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart. This is the one scenario where Newton could play next Sunday against the Broncos.
- If Newton is asymptomatic, he can return 10 days after his initial positive test. That would mean he'd also miss New England's Week 5 game versus Denver.
- If Newton is symptomatic, he can return 10 days after his initial positive test IF at least 72 hours have passed since he last showed symptoms.
All three scenarios require clearance by a team physician and consultation with the NFL's Chief Medical Officer before Newton's return.
Put simply, the earliest Newton can rejoin the team is Wednesday if his positive test was Friday. If he doesn't return two negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart, though, he can't return until Monday, Oct. 12, at the earliest.
If the NFL can't reschedule the Patriots' Week 4 matchup with the Chiefs for this Monday or Tuesday, then there's a world in which Newton doesn't miss a game. But it's very possible that backup Brian Hoyer will start for New England in the near future with Newton sidelined.