Harmon on Butler: 'People have to do what's best for them'

Harmon on Butler: 'People have to do what's best for them'

Malcolm Butler is a man without a team at the moment. Though it seems as though the wheels are in motion for him to be dealt to New Orleans, that's not a done deal, and there is a chance he ends up back in New England for 2017.

Patriots safety Duron Harmon, who re-signed with the Patriots this offseason after testing free agency, is hoping that Butler will be back. He understands, though, that any player who is weighing his options needs to do what's best for him. 

"I love Malcolm," Harmon said during a conference call Friday. "I love being his teammate, what he brings to the football field, what he brings to the locker room. I would love being his teammate but, you know, this is a business more than anything. I know that people have got to do what’s best for them, so I’m just rooting on him that he gets to do whatever he feels is best for him."

While Butler's future is up in the air, the Patriots are sure to have a new-look secondary in 2017 thanks to the acquisition of free-agent corner Stephon Gilmore. Though Gilmore is at his best when playing man-to-man and getting physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage, he won't be playing in a vacuum. He'll have to get up to speed on all the communication that occurs in the Patriots defensive backfield. 

The majority of the work in that regard will fall on Gilmore's shoulders, but he'll have to have help from the veterans he'll be working with. Harmon explained that he and his teammates will be willing to put in as many hours as need be in order for Gilmore to feel comfortable. 

"We’ve got to put the work in," he said. "We’ve got to come on the practice field, we’ve got to work hard on the practice field and in the classroom. If we've got to stay after, we've got to stay after.

"You know how much we like to win around here and communication is very key to how we play good defense. It probably will always be that way, so we’ve got to make sure the communication is up to par, and it’s going to be on us to make sure everybody is communicating and communicating the right stuff."

Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

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Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."