Report: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski still irritated over Malcolm Butler benching
Reports of tension within the Patriots organization existed well before Malcolm Butler was shockingly benched for the entire Super Bowl, but Bill Belichick’s controversial decision may be the cause of much of the lingering drama in New England.
A source told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that the Patriots expect both Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady to be back with the team in 2018. While speculation has been that the star players have stayed away from voluntary workouts because they are unhappy with their contract situations as well as Belichick not allowing them the freedom to train the way they want, Florio notes that the Butler decision could still be a factor.
Apart from Gronkowski’s satisfaction or lack thereof with his pay, there’s also a belief that Gronkowski, Brady, and other Patriots continue to be salty about the inexplicable — and still unexplained — benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. A full eleven weeks later, coach Bill Belichick still hasn’t shed any light on the decision to use Butler for only one special-teams play and to keep him on the bench even after the Philly offense shredded the New England defense enough to force a change to the dime package during a 30-minute halftime.
Brady is said to be focusing less on football this offseason than in years past as he spends more time with his family. Gronkowski hinted over the weekend that he will be back in 2018, but he is reportedly enjoying his time away from team-sponsored workouts.
You can understand why Patriots players may feel Belichick cost them a Super Bowl win, as Butler almost certainly could have made the difference in New England’s 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. And given the way Brady and other veterans publicly supported Butler after the game, it would not be shocking to find out that they are still angry with Belichick over it.