FOXBORO -- The Patriots had myriad problems in pass defense Sunday against Pittsburgh as the 50 pass attempts by Ben Roethlisberger showed. Bill Belichick said Wednesday that the team's issues at corner barely registered.After speaking about the scouting process that brought corners Antwaun Molden and Phillip Adams aboard, I asked Belichick if the performance of those two players against Pittsburgh made him feel OK with last Friday's release of Leigh Bodden. "I think they both played competitively in the game," said Belichick. "I'd say the problems we had in the Pittsburgh game, I wouldn't put that at the top of the list."While Bodden wasn't reminding anyone of Champ Bailey over the first six games of 2011, there seemed -- to the layperson -- no indication that Molden and Adams were upgrades. In fact, Molden got the hook in the third quarter after playing terrified (sorry, no other word for it) and confused. Molden played 42 of the 80 defensive snaps. Adams came in and played 19 snaps. Belichick asked me for an example of poor corner play. Three popped to mind -- Molden and James Ihedigbo butchering a goal-line play by not getting their signals straight (touchdown Pittsburgh); Molden sprinting downfield away from Mike Wallace when Patrick Chung came on a safety blitz giving a 25-yard cushion that turned into a 12-yard gain; the miscommunication that led to an end zone double team and an Antonio Brown touchdown (Molden again).Belichick got the point and interjected, "I wouldn't say that every play was a good play. The number of plays that happened on the perimeter of the field relative to the plays that happened well inside the numbers I don't think there was any comparison."Perhaps not. Butif corner play -- whether it be Molden, Adams or Devin McCourty(Kyle Arrington played pretty well it seemed) -- wasn't at the top of the list, it was in the top three. The communication on the back-end was awful. The safety play seemed addled. The schemes being used were questionable as well. And the fact that a player the team will sink 4 million into this season was home watching instead of on the field makes one wonder how exactly that makes the team better.
It was reported last week that multiple NFL executives are convinced that Darrelle Revis will return to the New England Patriots next season.
Talking with the New York Daily News, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he’d be open to a reunion with the 31-year-old cornerback.
“I would love it,” Kraft said. “Speaking for myself, if he wanted to come back, he’s a great competitor, I’d welcome him if he wanted to come.”
Asked if the team has had discussions with Revis, Kraft said “ask my boy,” in reference to coach Bill Belichick.
Revis spent the 2014 season with the Patriots, helping them win Super Bowl XLIX. He bolted back to the New York Jets the next season, signing a five-year, $70 million contract ($39 million guaranteed).
The Jets released Revis earlier this month after the incident in Pittsburgh. A judge dismissed the charges.
PHOENIX -- The idea that Malcolm Butler could be traded by the Patriots before the start of the 2017 season has been floated for weeks. But if Robert Kraft had his way, he'd like for the hero of Super Bowl XLIX to stick around.
At the Biltmore hotel on Day 2 of the league's annual meetings, Kraft was asked if he anticipated having Butler back in New England for next season.
"I sure hope so," he said. "We have [a first-round tender] out to him, and I know he has the ability to go out in the market and get someone to sign him, and then we either match it or get the first-round draft pick.
"I'm rooting, I hope, he's with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us. I have a great affection for him. He was part of probably the greatest play in the history of our team, but there are a lot of people involved in that."
The Patriots can't trade any player who isn't under contract, and they can't talk about a trade for a player not on their roster. Therefore, even if the Patriots hoped to deal Butler and get something in return for the Pro Bowl-caliber corner before he hits unrestricted free agency in 2018, it's not something that the owner of the team would be at liberty to discuss with dozens of microphones in front of his face.
The tender offer of $3.91 million for one season is still out there for Butler. He could sign it and play in New England. He could sign it and be traded. For now, Kraft says he's hoping for the former -- and insists that the Patriots didn't have designs on the latter all along.
"I don't want to, in any way, take away from his rights [as a restricted free agent]," he said, adding, "I want to be clear. I hope he's with us."