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Bill Belichick: Cam Newton is our quarterback

Mike Florio looks at the Alabama-New England connection that continues in the 2021 NFL Draft as Mac Jones heads to Foxborough.

Bill Belichick had never drafted a quarterback in the first round since arriving in New England in 2000. Of course, Belichick had Tom Brady as his starter for 19 of those seasons after Drew Bledsoe was injured, so he didn’t need to.

Mac Jones, whom the Patriots made the 15th overall selection Thursday, was the first quarterback drafted by New England in the first round since 1993.

Before taking questions about the pick of Jones, Belichick made clear that Cam Newton remains the starter. He added, though, that Jones and Jarrett Stidham will get a chance to compete when they are ready. (Stidham is in his third season, so if he’s not ready to compete now, he never will be.)

“Mac was available at our pick, and he was a guy we spent a lot of time with. Felt like that was the best pick at that time for us,” Belichick said, via Mark Daniels of The Providence Journal. “Look forward to working with him. He’s a smart kid. He’s been in a system that’s similar to ours. We’ve had a lot of good conversations with him. I think he’ll be able to process the offense. It’s obviously going to take a lot of time. See how it goes.

Cam’s our quarterback. Whatever time Jarrett or Mac are ready to challenge and compete, we’ll see how that goes. But right now for Mac, he’s just got a lot of learning in front of him. I know he’s very anxious to get going and get started on it.”

Belichick then was asked how long he expects Newton to remain the starter.

“I don’t know. Somebody will have to play better than he does,” Belichick said.

Newton, the 2015 league MVP, scored 12 rushing touchdowns in his first season in New England but threw for only eight. The Patriots had their first losing season since 2000 and missed the postseason for the first time since 2008.