FOXBORO -- Malcolm Butler had many wondering what his motivations were when he was not present for a Patriots optional OTA practice two weeks ago.
He answered some of those questions by showing up to his team's first mandatory minicamp practice on Tuesday, calling his May 26 absence a "big misunderstanding."
He added that he had a "family issue" that explained his whereabouts that day.
Butler, who was named to the Pro Bowl last season in his first full year as a starter, is scheduled to make $600,000 in base salary in 2016. He is eligible to hit restricted free agency after this season and will not become an unrestricted free agent until 2018.
Asked about his contract status following Tuesday's session, Butler answered, "It is what it is. I'm going to play hard no matter what. It is what it is."
Butler did not explain whether or not his agent and the team have had any contract discussions, and when asked if he felt as though he was deserving of a new deal, he avoided the question.
"I've got no comment on that," he said.
Butler would risk a fine by not reporting to minicamp. Now that he has made it clear he'll be on the field with his teammates during the mandatory portion of their work this spring, he'll be able to focus on his job and let the contract talks play out however they'll play out.
"That's not my decision," he said. "All I can do is just go out there, play football, and make plays for the team. Just whatever to help the team win, that's all I'm about."
Butler spent time working against several different Patriots receivers Tuesday, including Chris Hogan and Aaron Dobson on the outside. Dobson, who had a productive day, made a leaping catch on a pass from Tom Brady, going over the top of Butler along the right sideline.
Phil Perry can be followed on Twitter: @PhilAPerry