Patriots

McCourty advice for Butler: 'Do what's best for yourself'

McCourty advice for Butler: 'Do what's best for yourself'

Devin McCourty's been through the free-agency dance before. Following the 2014 season, he hit unrestricted free agency and heard offers from other clubs before deciding to return to New England.

Malcolm Butler's situation isn't quite the same -- he's a restricted free agent this offseason -- but McCourty would advise him the same way he advises any player looking at his options: Do what's best for you and yours. 

During his recent visit with Quick Slants the Podcast, McCourty said he hasn't been pressuring Butler one way or the other.

"The thing is, with us, we're all close enough that we don't have to tell anybody we want them back," McCourty said. "Everybody knows how much we enjoy playing with each other. I just tell him . . . 'Do what's best for yourself, whether that's back here -- which I would love -- or if it's somewhere else I'm not going to hate you forever.'

"You gotta understand, man, this business, contract-wise it's individual-based. The secondary doesn't get paid for one guy's contract. It's just your contract. So you always have to look out for what's best for you and your family."

In speaking to reporters following an appearance at the Play it Forward summit at Boston University on Friday, McCourty explained that he would love to have Butler back if it made sense for all sides.

"For me, I hope to get to play with him another year and hopefully beyond," McCourty said. "But a lot of that is out of my control. I try not to get too involved in the contract and personal matters, but just give my advice to players from things I've experienced and just tell them to do what's best for themselves and their family . . .

"There's not going to be a player that comes in and says, 'Malcolm what's going on? You need to figure something . . .' Guys undertand the business part of it and the respect in the locker room, the different things he's done to help us, his work ehtic, all that doesn't change. Guys still love and respect him, whether he signs and comes back or whatever happens. Guys don't care about that.

"That's the cool thing about getting to know guys and becoming friends, it goes beyond playing together and being on the football field. You look at guys like Vince [Wilfork] and Jerod [Mayo], guys that for me I thought I would be playing witt for my whole career. Things happen. Things change, but it doesn't change the relationship I have with those guys.

"I expect him to be back, probably. Obviously I don't know. I haven't really had any contact with anyone other than just laughing and joking text messages. We'll see what happens. Exciting time. I always tell people if other teams want you and your team wants you it's a good thing. He just has to have fun and enjoy it."

Butler has until April 21 to sign any offer sheet he's been extended from another club. If he signs elsewhere, the Patriots will have the opportunity to match the deal. If the Patriots opt not to match, they would be entitled to the first-round pick of Butler's new club.

EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

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EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

On this episode of The Ex-Pats Podcast...

0:10 - Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen give their takeaways from the Patriots win over the Falcons including the defense coming up strong against Atlanta but New England still taking too many penalties.

2:00 - Why it felt like this game meant more to the Patriots, their sense of excitement after the win, and building chemistry off a good victory.

6:20 - Falcons losing their identity without Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator and their bad play calling and decisions on 4th downs.

10:00 -  A discussion about Matt Ryan not making the throws he needed against the Patriots and if he has falling off the MVP caliber-type player he was last season.

14:00 - How and why the Patriots secondary seems to be playing better without Stephon Gilmore and why Malcolm Butler has been able to turn up his play as of late.

Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

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Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

If your team makes a goal-line stop in the fourth quarter, but you can't see it on the All-22 tape, did it even happen? 

Bill Belichick said the fog that hovered above the Gillette Stadium turf on Sunday night didn't impact the play on the field, but it did make its imprint on the game in other ways. First of all, spotters and coaches up at the press level had some difficulty relaying information to coaches on the sidelines. Video on the hand-held tablets for sideline use -- as well as the old-school still-frame pictures Belichick prefers -- was also obstructed. 

Then on Monday, as coaches tried to digest the film, the fog butted in on the process again. 

"It affected us a lot this morning because it’s hard to see the game," Belichick said during a conference call. "The fourth quarter is – I don’t know – pretty close to a white-out on the sideline film. The sideline cameras are at the top of the stadium, so that’s a tough shot.

"The end zone cameras are a little bit lower and they get a little tighter shot, so the picture is a little bit clearer. But, on that shot, a lot of times you’re not able to see all the guys on the perimeter. It’s kind of an in-line shot.

"Yeah, the first half, start of the third quarter, it’s all right. As they get into the middle of the third quarter and on, for those of us with aging eyes, it’s a little strained to see it, and then there’s a point where you can’t really see it at all, especially from the sideline. So, yeah, it affected us."

Belichick re-iterated that the fog didn't do much to the product on the field (other than maybe making life difficult for kick and punt-returners), refuting Julio Jones' claim from late Sunday night. When it came to digesting the film, though, that was another story.

"It was more, I’d say, just tougher for, whether it be our video camera or the fans that were sitting in the upper deck. It’s just there was too much interference there," Belichick said. "It was probably hard to see the game. I know when we tried to look at the pictures in between series – you know, I don’t look at the tablets, so I won’t get into that – but the pictures, it was kind of the same thing. It was hard to really be able to make out exactly what you were seeing."