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Butler Reportedly Not Satisfied with Contract
Monday, May 31
Butler is "unhappy" with his current deal, according to Michael Giardi of CSNNE.com, who added he's not sure if that was the cause of Butler's absence from OTAs.
Butler Skipped Voluntary OTAs on Thursday
Sunday, May 29
Butler did not report to the New England Patriots' voluntary organized team activity Thursday, leading to speculation that the cornerback may be skipping the practice as he seeks a new contract with the team, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com:
Butler has told teammates and friends he plans to push for an adjustment to his contract before the 2016 season, and staying off the field in voluntary workouts would be a decision that limits injury risk and also could be viewed as a statement to the organization that he's unhappy with the status quo and/or the movement/specifics of contract talks.
Butler Enjoyed Career Year in 2015
Butler, 26, signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2014 from the University of West Alabama. He was the hero of Super Bowl XLIX, intercepting Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson's pass at the goal line to secure a Patriots title.
Last season, he notched 67 tackles and two interceptions, starting every game for the team and earning a bid to the Pro Bowl. Nonetheless, he is set to make just $600,000 in the final year of his rookie contract, per Spotrac, and his play on the field suggests that he's worth much more.
Butler spoke about the possibility of an extension back in March, per Kyed:
One day it’s going to come. You just can’t ignore it. I’m just going with the flow, doing my job, making sure I come back in shape, make sure I come back ready to go. And if it happens, it happens. I want it to happen, but I can’t control the things I can’t control. I’m just playing football, glad to be in the NFL, glad to be a Patriots player, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.
The Patriots will have some interesting decisions to make in that regard. Linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower are also set to hit free agency after this season, meaning the Patriots have three pillars of their defense seeking long-term extensions and deserving of significant raises.
That fact was probably the primary reasoning behind the decision to trade Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals this offseason, as he was another player in a contract year. But which player (or players) the Patriots will ultimately re-sign remains the most intriguing story for the team this season—outside of the ongoing Tom Brady saga, of course—as Reiss noted:
Who gets paid first? Do deals with any of them get done before the season? If not, how would it be received -- labor vs. management -- in the locker room? Between now and the start of the regular season, I see this as one of the top storylines with the Patriots, with added pressure on management because of the unique dynamics in play.
Obviously, the issue is a moot point if the Patriots can re-sign all three players. Given the team's history of careful cap management, however—and the fact that Butler, Collins and Hightower would all be prized targets on the free-agent market—keeping all three will be difficult.
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