AFC Notes: Xavien Howard, Matthew Slater, Bills, Dolphins, Patriots


Former Bills pass game coordinator/DB coach John Butler was with the team from 2018-2023, but he felt it was time to move on from HC Sean McDermott‘s staff this offseason. Butler has been coaching since 1995 and he’s been in the NFL since 2014, but he’s never had a role higher than pass game coordinator in his NFL career.

“Bobby’s going to do a great job,” Butler said after LBs coach Bobby Babich was named the team’s new DC, via Tim Graham of The Athletic. “It really just came down to us both feeling we were qualified to do the job. We both still are. The decision doesn’t change anything. But once that decision is made, it’s time for me to see if I can be a coordinator somewhere else. I’m at my best when I’m in charge. I ran the secondary for six years, but there’s a ceiling there.”

Butler stressed he was moving on to seek other career advancement opportunities, not because of any issues with McDermott. He also received positive reviews on his way out the door from fellow coaches and players. 

“John explains the grand scheme of it all,” former Bills CB Levi Wallace said. “Some coaches don’t always have the answer beyond, ‘Because this is what we came up with.’ But he’s a natural leader and communicator. It was easy to follow his words. He always had faith in us, always believed that we could be great. So we held ourselves to a high standard.”


  • Dolphins CB Xavien Howard is under contract for 2024, but his cap hit is $25.9 million, and $15.4 million of his entire salary is non-guaranteed. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald thinks it would be “at least somewhat surprising” if Howard returns to Miami next year.
  • Jackson reports an NFL associate who has somewhat of a relationship with Howard feels the veteran corner is “very much” open to options other than the Dolphins.
  • Another source told Jackson the Dolphins have not informed Howard of any decision about his future, and Jackson’s source says Miami hasn’t asked him to take a pay cut. 
  • The Dolphins have promoted Mathieu Araujo to cornerbacks coach, via the team’s website. Araujo spent the last two years with Miami as the assistant DB coach.


Former Patriots HC Bill Belichick had high praise for former WR and ST standout Matthew Slater upon Slater’s retirement on February 20th. 

“Matthew Slater deserves every accolade someone could receive,” Belichick said via ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “He is a once in a lifetime person, and the best core special teams player in NFL history. His daily, weekly, and yearly work ethic, paved the way for his unsurpassed performance. Matthew is the finest example of what an intense competitor and human being should be. He has been a great role model for the teams players & coaches) that I have coached. Matthew is exceedingly kind, and supremely loved and respected by all his peers. I am one of many who feel incredibly blessed to be his teammate, coach, and friend.” 

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