The New England Patriots and cornerback Malcolm Butler, the hero of Super Bowl XLIX, may be headed for a divorce. Butler, playing for $3.9 million this season and a free agent next summer, wants a new contract. Eric Rowe started over Butler in Sunday’s 36-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Butler ended up playing more than Rowe, 49 snaps to 34, but the starting snub led to speculation about a possible trade.
The Patriots could use Butler to add to their capital a year after sending a first-rounder to New Orleans for Brandin Cooks. They could also use help with their pass rush and at receiver following a spate of injuries.
“It’s all about this year,” defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said about Butler and Rowe, per the Boston Herald. “I think what things have gone down in the past doesn’t really matter to us. We’re trying to get better for this year, and the guys that are out there and positions are where we think they need to be right now currently, and to help us win that particular week.
As for a veteran, the Redskins would likely pursue 33-year-old Alex Smith if he parts with Kansas City, or one of Minnesota’s triumvirate. All three Vikings quarterbacks — Case Keenum, Sam Bradford (another former Heisman winner) and Teddy Bridgewater — are pending free agents.
Perhaps the biggest injury news of the day relates to Cardinals star running back David Johnson, who left Arizona’s 35-23 loss to Detroit with a wrist injury. X-rays were negative, according to Pro Football Talk, but Johnson will have an MRI exam on Monday. Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN report that the MRI will determine whether Johnson will miss “a few weeks” or “half the season” with his sprained wrist.
However, it proved to be a false alarm, as McCoy was cleared to return following his wrist injury.
Fournette vs. McCaffrey … The Panthers have an interesting choice to make if they stay put at No. 8 and both Fournette and McCaffrey are available. At that point, it would be all about what style of offense Carolina wants to play with its new featured tailback, according to former NFL coach Jon Gruden.