Last week’s OTA’s brought forth both excitement and concern. One of the biggest stories was the impressive play of newly-acquired tight end Martellus Bennett. However one practice absence raised a red flag for the perennial AFC East champions.
— Bleacher Report NFL (@BR_NFL) May 29, 2016
Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler skipped the voluntary workouts. Some began to question the lack of attendance and worried it was contract related.
The cornerback claimed Tuesday that it was nothing to raise an eyebrow at. Butler called the absence a “big misunderstanding.” When further questioned, he refused to divulge any further information other than “it was a family issue, or something like that.”
Malcolm Butler is just happy to be at minicamp, let contract "take care of itself" pic.twitter.com/YTfsoizpEA
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) June 7, 2016
Nothing has been reported further on what exactly that family issue may have been. “Something like that” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that it was not related to the contractual issue. Without any further evidence or news, a division between Belichick and Butler doesn’t carry weight.
Butler is expected to make $600,000 this season. It’s a number that is far too low for a player that provided so much to the franchise in the past two seasons. The Patriots do have the ability to sign Butler before anyone else as he will be a restricted free agent after this year.
E.J. Biggers has the Patriots 3rd largest CB cap hit at $680k. 2nd round pick Cyrus Jones has 2nd highest CB cap hit, behind Logan Ryan.
— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) June 7, 2016
With Butler returning to the team, another cornerback was a notably absent: Logan Ryan. He is expected to make $1,161,000 in 2016. Ryan will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
Rookie cornerback Cyrus Jones was of course at practice, and also took part in the kick return game. Justin Coleman picked up the slack due to Ryan’s lack of attendance.
Rob Gronkowski did not take part in the practices. It is likely more than an abundance of caution that kept him out. The best tight end in football has been an unstoppable force when healthy, and Belichick plans on keeping his legs fresh. Gronk was spotted in the Seaport District Monday, where he posed for an awesome picture with Milton High Seniors.
— Tapestry Commun (@TapestryCommun) June 6, 2016
With Deflategate still hanging its ugly control over Tom Brady’s season, Jimmy Garapollo stepped in and delivered a strong performance on his first day of practice. Keshawn Martin and Nate Washington caught the majority of passes since Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman are both continuing rehab of their injuries. Chris Hogan looked very good, and showed a solid pair of hands throughout the day.
Brady was his usual self in the first day of minicamp, except for a lone interception by Rob Ninkovich. Jacoby Brissett had a strong day, and looked much improved since OTA’s. At this point he still remains as the sole unsigned played on the Patriots roster.
Patriots mini-camp continues until Thursday. Brissett’s play throughout the next two days will likely decide his contract situation.