Belichick tight-lipped on reason for Butler benching

Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots warms up prior to Super Bowl LII. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (WPRI) — Patriots fans were left with a number of questions after the team fell short in its quest for a sixth title, but there was one that really had everyone talking Monday: why was cornerback Malcolm Butler riding the pine?

Butler, who’s ingrained in New England lore for his late-game heroics in the Patriots’ win over the Seahawks in the 2015 Super Bowl, didn’t play a single snap Sunday night, despite being on the field for nearly 98 percent of the team’s snaps this season.

As Butler stood on the sideline, Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offense carved up the Patriots’ defense, amassing 538 yards – including 373 yards through the air – en route to a 41-33 victory.

During a conference call on Monday, head coach Bill Belichick offered little on the controversial decision to bench Butler.

“I respect Malcolm’s competitiveness and I’m sure he thinks he could have helped but in the end, we have to do what’s best for the football team,” Belichick said.

When asked if he at any point considered putting Butler in, Belichick said curtly, “I just covered that.”

The mantra around New England has always been “in Bill we trust,” but some fans seem to be wavering on that after the loss.

Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who was hired Monday as the Detroit Lions’ next head coach, said Butler was in parts of the team’s plan, but those parts weren’t utilized in the game.

Butler, 27, told a reporter after the game, “they gave up on me,” but didn’t comment any further on the reason he didn’t play.

An unrestricted free agent last offseason, Butler was the center of trade talks but wound up sticking around. His future with the team is uncertain as he’s once again an unrestricted free agent and will likely test the market.