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Free-Agent-To-Be Malcolm Butler on Super Bowl Benching by Patriots: “They Gave Up On Me”

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Malcolm Butler emerged onto the scene with a Super Bowl-clinching interception in 2014, but his career with the New England Patriots might have come to an end without him taking a single defensive snap in Super Bowl LII.

Butler was limited to special teams duty in the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, a game in which New England’s defense allowed Nick Foles to throw for 373 yards and three touchdowns. When asked about Butler’s surprising lack of first-half playing time by NBC sideline analyst Michele Tafoya, Head Coach Bill Belichick said: “I made the decisions that gave us the best chance to win.”

Patriots Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia insisted Butler, who was battling the flu earlier in the week and did not show up on the team’s final injury report, was healthy enough to play … but that matchups dictated his lack of playing time.

Clearly, Butler didn’t see it that way:

Belichick’s stance is a curious one and Patrcia’s explanation was less than adequate, to say the least. Butler, who even in a down year by his standards, is one of the league’s steadier cornerbacks. The Patriots’ secondary has seen Butler start 47 of 48 games since the start of the 2015 season, coming up with eight interceptions, forcing four fumbles, and recovering two. Butler’s overall grades of 83.2, 88.1, and 79.2 over at Pro Football Focus are representative of his steady performance since becoming a starter.

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Butler is set to be a free agent and could cash in if he leaves New England, though he admits he’s unsure what his future holds. One year after coming up short in the bidding on Butler’s teammate Stephon Gilmore, the Bears could be in the market to make a play for his services. Chicago could certainly do worse than adding a Pro Bowl performer to its secondary.

The NFL’s free agency period was already going to be loaded with rumors and player movement, but a potentially rocky relationship with the Patriots at the end of his career could put a return to New England in doubt.


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Luis Medina

Luis is the Lead Writer at The Ten-Yard Line, and you can find him on Twitter at @lcm1986.