With free agency looming, it’s time to again face the ugly truth. Butler’s time in New England is over.
A hero New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler was after Super Bowl XLIX. An undrafted free agent out of West Alabama with a chip on his shoulder who just played the game to play the game. But somewhere along the line, things changed.
Butler caught the virus that most athletes catch when you have the world at your fingertips. The sickness of self-importance over the team.
Tensions rose high in the offseason when the Patriots gave the money to cornerback Stephon Gilmore in what was at the time a controversial decision and was a lingering issue that never seemed to go away.
Butler tried relentlessly to get out of New England during the offseason, visiting the New Orleans Saints before signing his free agent tender and sticking it out for another season. But head coach Bill Belichick was clearly not happy, as Butler saw limited action during the first few weeks of the season with Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones getting some work in his place.
He ended up back on the field but it still never felt right. “The Butler” who used to take away receivers like Antonio Brown was underwhelming as if he was trying to outplay himself make himself more appealing for suitors come the season’s end.
All culminating in only playing a sole snap in Super Bowl LII.
“We put the players and game plan out there that we thought would be the best, like we always do,” Belichick told reporters Sunday.
Butler was less discreet in his response as he highlighted the way he felt in an “unpatriot” way.
“They gave up on me. F***. It is what it is,” Butler said to ESPN after the game. “I could’ve changed that game.”
If there is one thing we learned out of all of this, Butler has played his last game in a Patriots’ uniform. While fans will always remember the interception that brought the franchise their fourth title, the changed player behind the helmet who had a hotheaded attitude and an over sense of self-worth will long be forgotten.