New England Patriots' 53-man roster projection puts faith in Mac Jones' development

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots open training camp Wednesday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Patriots finished the 2020 season 7-9, their first sub-.500 year since 2000, which was Bill Belichick's first as head coach. After winning the AFC East title 17 of the prior 19 seasons, a third-place finish in the AFC East was something the Patriots aren't accustomed to, and that sparked a record free-agent spending spree to infuse the roster with much-needed talent.

How that talent comes together under Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, top defensive coaches Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo, and special teams coordinator Cameron Achord will be among the NFL's top storylines this season. Here's a 53-man roster projection:

QUARTERBACK (2): Cam Newton, Mac Jones

Jones was already taking some top repetitions in spring practices, which reflects how far along he is mentally entering his first training camp. If he wins the starting job, would Newton want to remain as the backup? If not, Jarrett Stidham (opening on the physically unable to perform list) or Brian Hoyer would be the next man up, and if it is indeed a Newton-Jones combo to open the season, at least one of the other backups would seem to be an ideal option on the practice squad.