Malcolm Butler 'worried' about Eagles, not next contract

MINNEAPOLIS -- The New England Patriots paid Stephon Gilmore like a top cornerback during free agency, despite having Malcolm Butler already on the roster. Butler remains there, though he was nearly traded to the New Orleans Saints and handed a blockbuster deal.

When Butler becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason, the belief is the cornerback will be able to earn a bigger deal outside of New England.

In a conversation earlier this week, Butler opened up about an up-and-down season, one that he has concluded by playing at his typical high-level.

"Anything that happened to me is my fault," Butler said. "It has nothing to do with anything, it's possible to just have a s----y season. It is what it is. I'm just worried about the Eagles."

Did he? Really? Butler, the Super Bowl XLIX hero and one of the top free agents, was asked if he was serious.

"Compared to the rest of them, I do [think I had a s----y season]," Butler continued. "I have high standards, I didn't meet my goals. I just feel that way. There were ups and downs, a lack of consistency. But this isn't about me, this is about the team."

Most important, Butler said, the goal is to beat the Eagles. Every time he was asked about his contract situation, he referred the discussion back to the game.

He shrugged when the Patriots signed Gilmore to a five-year, $65M contract, though at that point, Butler was on a $3.91M restricted free agent tender. Had he been traded to the Saints, he would've earned nearly what Gilmore did.

"That's how it is," he said. "It's a production business."

Here is how Butler deals with the speculation about his status.

"I treat it like my family," Butler said. "I know they're coming to the game, but I also know I have a task I have to handle, and that's the game. So I just put everything to the side and focus on the moment. This is my third Super Bowl, and you never know, I may never end up in a Super Bowl again. I'm just taking it a day at a time, preparing, locking in on the Eagles and that's really what matters right now."

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet

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