Patriots

Malcolm Butler says there's 'no bad blood' ahead of matchup vs Patriots

Malcolm Butler says there's 'no bad blood' ahead of matchup vs Patriots

Malcolm Butler has taken the high road ahead of Sunday's matchup vs his former team.

The ex-Patriots cornerback's benching during Super Bowl LII remains a controversial topic nearly a year later. Now with the Titans, Butler has every reason to enter Sunday's game with extra motivation. If he is, he isn't letting it show.

"I just have to get back to doing what I do, and that's playing football," Butler said. "I know I used to play there, and I just have to pick up my performance – I don't care who I play. I just want to pick up my performance, that's all."

Along with downplaying the personal importance of going up against Bill Belichick and the Patriots, Butler had nothing but positive things to say about his time in New England.

"It went well," said Butler. "It didn't end well, but it went great. Those people showed me nothing but love, and I love them back. I appreciate Mr. (Robert) Kraft, Bill Belichick, all those guys. … No bad blood."

There might be any "bad blood" between Butler and the Patriots, but Pats safety Devin McCourty noted that he and his former teammates who are now with Tennessee aren't friends, at least for this week.

"Those guys don’t know me this week," McCourty said. "So, it’s rough in our friendship. We all talk a good amount during the season but there hasn’t been much interaction during this week."

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Patriots 2019 training camp schedule: Here's when veterans will report

Patriots 2019 training camp schedule: Here's when veterans will report

The defending Super Bowl champions will be back at Gillette Stadium exactly one month from Monday.

The NFL announced training camp report dates for all 32 teams Monday, and the Patriots' rookies are due in Foxboro on July 21, while the veterans are set to arrive on July 24.

Training camp traditionally starts one day after veterans report, meaning New England should begin training camp Thursday, July 25.

The Patriots have been off since June 10, when head coach Bill Belichick cancelled the team's final two days of organized team activities and set up a lively paintball experience instead.

The team hasn't announced complete training camp dates and times yet, but the Patriots will head to Detroit in the first full week of August for joint practices with the Lions prior to their Aug. 8 preseason opener.

They'll also hold joint practices with the Tennessee Titans the following week.

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Could Texans still try to swing a trade for Patriots exec Nick Caserio?

Could Texans still try to swing a trade for Patriots exec Nick Caserio?

Unless the Texans found former GM Brian Gaine so inept they couldn’t take him for another day, one gets the feeling the team leaped before they looked when they canned him.

Now, with their pursuit of Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio running aground, the team is without a personnel chief and Gaine is doing whatever exiled GMs do in June when they have the rug pulled from under them.

The Texans, according to Houston oracle John McClain, will divvy up the workload between head coach Bill O'Brien, executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby, director of player personnel Matt Bazirgan and senior vice president of administration Chris Olsen.

Houston is an upper echelon AFC team. For them to seemingly create an issue where one didn’t outwardly exist and then have no remedy in place is the kind of self-sabotage that’s helped keep the Patriots where they’ve been for two decades.

Making it worse is that Caserio and Easterby have the same agent, Bob LaMonte. Houston should have been able to find out Caserio had the clause in his contract preventing him from leaving the Patriots before his deal expires after the 2020 draft .

(In case you are wondering, no, I didn’t know the Patriots character coach had an agent before this process began either.)

What’s the Texans’ recourse? They can wait, keeping the seat warm for Caserio. They can do what they did when they hired Gaine, skipping down the list to grab someone they may not be sold on. They can make another run at Patriots Director of College Scouting Monti Ossenfort, who the Patriots blocked them from speaking to in January of 2018. Or they can keep up their pursuit of Caserio with a trade.

The possibility of that happening remains alive for another few weeks before training camp begins.

What would it cost? The Patriots' asking price would have to be a first-rounder. Caserio is making around $2M per year according to a 2017 report by Jeff Howe. The Patriots have a streamlined personnel department so his workload is substantial. He also is instrumental as a coach-without-title and shares a brain with Bill Belichick on the types of players Belichick wants in his program. The reason Caserio has the autonomy he does — and he does have more than people think — is because he inherently knows what his boss is looking for.

A first-rounder would seem to be a non-starter for Houston. It’s bad enough they are parading around the party with their fly down. A first-rounder would seem like they’re compounding the mistake.

Something less? Even though Caserio certainly has very high value, to me, the Patriots need to gauge Caserio’s frame of mind and perhaps consider a deal.

I don’t know that he “wants out” but I’m certain he’d have enjoyed the chance to hear a pitch about making more dough, crafting a team with O’Brien and having a part in something that’s being built rather than maintained.

To be blocked from doing so — albeit because of a clause in a contract he agreed to — well, it’s got to feel constricting. And it makes Caserio a lame duck GM as his contract winds down.

Will the Patriots do anything to assuage any irritation he has before he and the personnel staff embark on the grueling process of scouting college players, evaluating every one of the other 31 rosters in the league and making the scores of roster moves the team annually makes?

Or would they consider getting value for him while they still can as they would with a player on an expiring contract?

The question is, how motivated are the Texans to get their man?  

Click here for latest Patriots 53-man roster projection

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