AFC Notes: Malcolm Butler, Rob Gronkowski, Patriots, Titans


Malcolm Butler

Following Sunday’s loss to the Eagles, Patriots CB Malcolm Butler said the team “gave up on me.” (NFLTR)

Patriots HC Bill Belichick said that the decision to bench Butler came down to them wanting to play the players they thought would be the best against the Eagles.

We put the best — the players out there and the game plan out there that we thought would be the best tonight like we always do,” Belichick said, via

Belichick added that a lot goes into this kind of decision, but they didn’t sit Butler because of disciplinary reasons.

“There are a lot of things that go into that,” Belichick said. “In the end, the final decision is what I said it was.”

On Monday, Belichick reiterated that they did what they felt was “best for the football team.

I respect Malcolm’s competitiveness. I’m sure he feels like he could have helped. I’m sure the players felt the same way,” Belichick said, per Doug Kyed. “In the end we have to make the decisions that we feel are best for the football team. That’s what we did. That’s what I did.”

We have Butler featured in our Top 100  – 2018 NFL Free Agents list.


  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that one or more family members have been pushing Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski to retire.
  • Florio points out that he doesn’t need the money, given that he has said that he hasn’t spent a dime of the money he’s made playing football and has instead been living off of his marketing revenue.
  • Despite being one of the game’s best offensive players, Gronkowski is set to make just $8.25 million for the 2018 season. Should Gronkowski retire, he wouldn’t owe the Patriots any of his signing bonus.
  • With this in mind, Florio wonders if Gronkowski’s unwillingness to commit to being back for the 2018 season (NFLTR) could be him posturing for a new contract.


Titans QB Marcus Mariota said that he’s “very excited” after sitting down with new HC Mike Vrabel to discuss the direction of the team.

“I’m just very excited,” Mariota said, via Jim Wyatt of  “[Vrabel’s] vision, the direction he wants to take the team, it is one that I am very excited to be a part of. It is going to be a lot of fun. I think he is a very competitive guy. He just loves to win games and put us in the best position possible and I look forward to getting to work and I can’t wait to get started.

“I think it was a step in the right direction,” Mariota added. “Our team is still young and to get playoff appearance, and get that first playoff win under our belt was huge. That experience was invaluable, and being able to build off of that with the core group we have. I can’t wait to get back to work and go chase another one.