Cornerback Malcolm Butler‘s Patriots career took off thanks to a big play in a Super Bowl and it may have come to an end without a single defensive play in a Super Bowl.
Butler was surprisingly left on the bench when the defense was on the field in Sunday’s 41-33 loss to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII. Patriots coach Bill Belichick called it a football decision at halftime, saying he “made the decisions that give us the best chance to win.”
Belichick reiterated that after the game, saying it was not a disciplinary action. Butler was sick at the start of the week, but did not appear on the Patriots’ final injury report of the week.
Butler didn’t shed light on his absence. He told reporters he had nothing to say in the locker room after what may well be his final game as a member of the team.
Butler is set for unrestricted free agency next month and Sunday’s decision makes it seem unlikely that the Patriots will be using a franchise tag to keep him from hitting the market.
UPDATE 11:10 p.m. ET: Butler had more to say in the locker room.
“They gave up on me. F—. It is what it is,” Butler Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. “I don’t know what it was. I guess I wasn’t playing good or they didn’t feel comfortable. I don’t know. But I could have changed that game.”