BOSTON (CBS) — After a tumultuous offseason, Malcolm Butler is just happy to be playing football again.
Much like he battles opposing receivers every Sunday, the corner spent much of the offseason fighting for a contract from the New England Patriots. That never happened, and Butler had to settle for a restricted free agent tender that will pay him $3.9 million for this season.
It’s a shame the Patriots are making a success story like Butler, who went from being an undrafted depth player to Super Bowl hero to New England’s top corner all in the span of a couple of years, fight for a payday, but that’s nothing new. And Butler doesn’t sound too bothered by it now that he and his Patriots teammates are back on the field.
“The past is the past. I’m just here to do a job and do anything to help the team win,” the corner told reporters after Thursday’s OTA session at Gillette Stadium. “I’m moving forward and whatever happens, happens.”
Butler said he’s separating the on-field side of football from the business side as he focuses on the 2017 season, and didn’t seem eager to discuss becoming an unrestricted free agent when the season ends.
“Everything is one day at a time; just take it one day at a time. You can’t predict the future so you just have to go with the flow,” he said. “You never know what is going to happen. I’ll sit back and wait and control what I can control. I’m here now and that’s what it is.
“This is my team,” Butler added. “It wouldn’t hurt nobody but myself if I missed this. This is time to get better and that’s what I’m out here to do.”
Butler said he’s ready to do whatever Bill Belichick asks of him on the field, even if that means playing the slot corner. He was the team’s No. 1 corner last season, but with the offseason addition of free agent Stephon Gilmore, Butler’s role is a bit uncertain ahead of training camp.
The Patriots gave Gilmore a five-year, big money deal on Day 1 of free agency, a move that reportedly upset Butler. But he didn’t sound hurt over Gilmore’s deal on Thursday, saying he was happy to have another talented corner in the New England secondary.
“We have another good player on this team. Anything that helps the team win, I’m down with it,” said Butler. “He brings size and the cover skills. One of the best guys in the leagues. He’s very underrated. We’ll try to build off each other, no matter what.
“It’s a great group and we’re all learning from each other,” he said of the New England defensive backs. “We have a lot of building and communication to do together. I’m looking forward to it.”