Belichick confirms Butler’s absence was coach’s decision

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Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, in what could be his last game with the team, isn’t playing defense. The team described the situation during the first half as the product of a “coach’s decision.” Coach Bill Belichick elaborated on the situation, sort of, at halftime.

“I made the decisions that give us the best chance to win,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick told Michele Tafoya of NBC.

This would seem to rule out any disciplinary or illness-related reason for the absence. Still, it’s a strange situation to see the hero of Super Bowl XLIX playing only special teams in Super Bowl LII.

Butler played in 2017 under the restricted free agency tender. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent on March 14.