Malcolm Butler didn’t play a single defensive snap in Super Bowl LII, and the reasons for that were many. Some we know, some we don’t know, some we can only guess.
But this much is certain: money had something to do with it.
“The contract situation got into Malcolm’s head,” MMQB senior NFL reporter and NBC Sports Boston host Albert Breer said on Taz & The Moose. “I can tell you this. Malcolm, when he was a restricted free agent (and) the Patriots hung on to him, Malcolm knew exactly the amount of money the Patriots were keeping him away from. On top of that, they paid Stephon Gilmore far more than they were ever willing to pay Malcolm.”
Butler, the hero of Super Bowl XLIX, was upset. He had an up-and-down training camp and was benched in Week 2.
“There’s all this history there,” Breer said. “I think he had an idea that his role was going to be cut down for the Super Bowl. Where things went from there, I think, sort of affected the way he practiced that week, affected the way he interacted with coaches, and ultimately led to this decision. But I can tell you there were people at the highest level of the organization that had no idea that he wasn’t going to play. I’m talking about ownership. Had no idea that he wasn’t going to play on Sunday and they were looking for answers after the game.”
So were a lot of Patriots fans, especially after seeing the defense allow 41 points.
“It’s one thing to bench the guy,” Breer said. “It’s one thing to sit the guy because you think, ‘We don’t know what type of performance we’re going to get. We don’t know where his head’s at.’ But then when you start getting torched for four quarters, that’s the thing. It’s one thing to sit him down at the beginning of the game. It’s another thing when you get to the third and fourth quarter and Nick Foles is going up and down the field on you.
“That’s why this whole thing doesn’t smell right,” Breer continued. “I’m not going to rule out there being something else there. All I can tell you is there’s a lot of history that’s transpired between the two sides over the last year.”