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Malcolm Butler tells why he thinks he was benched for Super Bowl

Malcolm Butler spoke to the media in Foxborough in Jan. 25.Barry Chin/Globe Staff/file

Malcolm Butler has moved on.

The former Patriots cornerback signed a five-year, $61 million contract with the Tennessee Titans Wednesday — a deal he’s “very, very satisfied and happy” about. As the 28-year-old told the Boston Herald‘s Jeff Howe, “that wasn’t a ‘we feel sorry for you’ contract. That’s a ‘we know your worth, what you’ve been through, how hard you go on the field’ contract.”

Butler is coming to Tennessee after four seasons in New England. His tenure came to a controversial end after he didn’t play a single defensive snap in Super Bowl LII due to what was called a coaching decision. Coach Bill Belichick and former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia haven’t had much to say about the benching, but Butler offered his perspective Wednesday once his new contract was finalized.


“I never got a reason,” Butler told Howe. “I feel like this was the reason: I got kind of sick. I went to the hospital. They probably thought I was kind of late on the game plan; I wasn’t as locked in as I should be and could have been a matchup deal. It could have been anything. But Bill Belichick has been doing this for a very long time. He took a veteran out of Super Bowl XLIX and put in a first-year rookie, and that turned out right, so you could never question his decision.”

As he did in his statement immediately following Super Bowl LII, Butler expressed gratitude to Belichick, owner Robert Kraft, his former teammates, and the Patriots organization. He said Tom Brady called him several times — both after the Super Bowl loss and before the Titans contract.

“He was really concerned, and he just wanted to know what was going on,” Butler said. “I really appreciate that from him.”


Butler told Howe he “recovered pretty fast” from the aftermath of everything that happened, adding that he understands there’s always going to be rumors and speculation from people trying to search for some sort of additional explanation. But the Super Bowl XLIX hero is ready for his next chapter in the NFL.

“You can’t change the past,” he said. “Whatever happens, happens. I just had to keep moving forward. I always knew I had a bright future ahead of me. It was just time to move on. Even when you’re not ready to move on, you’ve got to move on, so I just kept moving on.”