Pats’ Butler not feeling very Super about his play

Sometimes Malcolm Butler totes the party Patriot line.

And sometimes he’s brutally honest.

So when asked to assess his play this season, the Patriots starting cornerback, a potential free agent-to-be and three years removed from his historic Super Bowl winning interception as an undrafted rookie vs. Seattle, was silent for a few seconds. Maybe he was trying to be diplomatic. And then he thought, why not tell the truth as he sees it.

So he blurted an expletive.

“Pretty bleep-y, man,” he said. “I had three good season. I never experienced a not-so-good season. I’m glad I experienced it. I’m glad I did.”

That’s because Butler says it will make him more focused for the future, when perhaps he plays with another NFL team. It’s quite possible, three years removed from his biggest moment, Sunday’s Super Bowl could be his last as a Patriot as he becomes an unrestricted free agent. And this past year has opened his eyes, and he’s determined to make up for his “bleepy” year.

“Most definitely,” he said. “But right now I’m just worried about the Super Bowl. That’s the main focus.”

That expletive also describes the way he was feeling most of the week due to an illness – it’s been making the rounds here at the Mall of America — until he finally returned to practice later in the week.

Butler’s year isn’t what he expected, although the numbers aren’t bad. For the third straight year, he played in 16 games. He has two interceptions (four last year) He has 60 combined tackles (63 last year). He and the Patriots couldn’t agree on a new contract last season, and he signed his restricted free agent tender in mid-April, valued at $3.9 million.

It was thought he would have been included in the March trade with the New Orleans Saints for receiver Brandin Cooks, especially after the Patriots signed Stephon Gilmore to a huge deal. That shocked and stunned him, and he thought he was done as a Patriot.

“I had never been through anything like that,” Butler said. “It was the first time I ever experienced it. Of course my head was in a hundred directions, going 100 miles an hour. I’m just glad I was able to stick around.”

Butler’s situation was a mystery. The Patriots had a crush on Gilmore, weren’t about to give Butler a big contract when he was a year from being unrestricted (usually the Patriot Way).

Did Butler have a bad year in the coaches eyes? Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who is expected to bolt for the Detroit Lions head job right after the Super Bowl, was non committal on Butler’s play, but not his spirit. That also is often the Patriot Way for someone they don’t think deserves superlatives.

“For me again, Malcolm’s just another one of my guys on defense that works really hard,” Patricia said. “I love Malcolm, he’s a great person, he’s very prideful and he works extremely hard each week, and we put him in a lot of tough situations. He really just goes out, puts his head down, and tries to execute it at the highest level.

“He’s been great (from) that standpoint. Again, we’re just in the ground for Philly now.”

And so is Butler, who is glad he wasn’t dealt, especially because he’s back in the Super Bowl. He admits, three times in a four year career that he’s spoiled. He did say earlier in the week he wanted to remain a Patriot, but all that is up in the air.

“That time will come,” Butler said of the off-season free agency. “Like I said, whatever happens, happens. Everything is already mapped out. I just don’t know what it is. My main focus is the game on Sunday. I don’t know what the future holds.”

Right now, all he’s thinking about are rings. Super Bowl rings.

“I’m blessed with two, I want another,” he said. “We want another.”

And then we’ll see where he ends up. But right now, Butler is where he wants to be.

“Nowhere else,” he said. “Right here in Minnesota.”

Tom King can be reached at 594-1251,tking@nashuatelegraph.com., or @Telegraph_TomK.