New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed the team's quarterback competition following the selection of former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones at No. 15 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday (April 29) night.
Belichick reaffirmed his stance that Cam Newton would remain the team's starter heading into training camp and would remain so until Jones or third-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham were "ready to challenge and compete."
"Cam Newton's our quarterback," Belichick said during the Patriots draft press conference on Thursday night via the Providence Journal. "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."
Jones led Alabama to a College Football National Championship and was third in the Heisman voting -- behind teammate DeVonta Smith, and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the projected No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft -- during his lone season as Alabama's full-time starting quarterback.
Jones threw for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, and four interceptions on 311 of 402 passing -- while also recording one rushing touchdown -- while leading the Crimson Tide to a 13-0 record in 2020.
Jones also made four starts in the absence of Tua Tagovailoa following a season-ending injury in 2019.
Belichick attended Alabama's Pro Day last month and watched Jones participate in workouts.
In March, the Patriots re-signed Newton, despite a disappointing first season with the franchise. The former NFL MVP Newton threw for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns, and 10 interceptions while going 7-8 as a starter in 15 games.
Newton and the Patriots agreed to a one-year contract "worth up to $13.6 million," sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The Patriots finished the 2020 season with a 7-9 overall record, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.