McCourty advice for Butler: 'Do what's best for yourself'

McCourty advice for Butler: 'Do what's best for yourself'

Devin McCourty's been through the free-agency dance before. Following the 2014 season, he hit unrestricted free agency and heard offers from other clubs before deciding to return to New England.

Malcolm Butler's situation isn't quite the same -- he's a restricted free agent this offseason -- but McCourty would advise him the same way he advises any player looking at his options: Do what's best for you and yours. 

During his recent visit with Quick Slants the Podcast, McCourty said he hasn't been pressuring Butler one way or the other.

"The thing is, with us, we're all close enough that we don't have to tell anybody we want them back," McCourty said. "Everybody knows how much we enjoy playing with each other. I just tell him . . . 'Do what's best for yourself, whether that's back here -- which I would love -- or if it's somewhere else I'm not going to hate you forever.'

"You gotta understand, man, this business, contract-wise it's individual-based. The secondary doesn't get paid for one guy's contract. It's just your contract. So you always have to look out for what's best for you and your family."

In speaking to reporters following an appearance at the Play it Forward summit at Boston University on Friday, McCourty explained that he would love to have Butler back if it made sense for all sides.

"For me, I hope to get to play with him another year and hopefully beyond," McCourty said. "But a lot of that is out of my control. I try not to get too involved in the contract and personal matters, but just give my advice to players from things I've experienced and just tell them to do what's best for themselves and their family . . .

"There's not going to be a player that comes in and says, 'Malcolm what's going on? You need to figure something . . .' Guys undertand the business part of it and the respect in the locker room, the different things he's done to help us, his work ehtic, all that doesn't change. Guys still love and respect him, whether he signs and comes back or whatever happens. Guys don't care about that.

"That's the cool thing about getting to know guys and becoming friends, it goes beyond playing together and being on the football field. You look at guys like Vince [Wilfork] and Jerod [Mayo], guys that for me I thought I would be playing witt for my whole career. Things happen. Things change, but it doesn't change the relationship I have with those guys.

"I expect him to be back, probably. Obviously I don't know. I haven't really had any contact with anyone other than just laughing and joking text messages. We'll see what happens. Exciting time. I always tell people if other teams want you and your team wants you it's a good thing. He just has to have fun and enjoy it."

Butler has until April 21 to sign any offer sheet he's been extended from another club. If he signs elsewhere, the Patriots will have the opportunity to match the deal. If the Patriots opt not to match, they would be entitled to the first-round pick of Butler's new club.

Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'

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Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'

HOUSTON -- It wasn't the mechanics of his throwing motion that he was concerned about. For Jacoby Brissett, it was the way in which he was seeing the Texans defense, the length of time it took to get a feel for the game, and how his night ended that bothered him. 

"I felt like I was getting my rhythm," Brissett said after the Patriots lost their exhibition with the Texans on Saturday, 23-20. "But you can't really remember all that stuff when the last play happens like that. It's the last one."

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Though the outcome of the game meant nothing, Brissett and his teammates were looking for a game-winning touchdown with less than a minute left when Brissett had the ball knocked from his hands and out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. 

Brissett's night finished up with him going 5-for-10 for 36 yards. He was sacked twice and pressured on seven of his 15 drop-backs. 

The reserves playing for the Texans in the fourth quarter made life difficult for Brissett and his teammates as their first two drives resulted in punts. Brissett was hit twice on those drives, and his first third-down attempt failed when Houston sniffed out a screen. The Patriots had what looked like a third-and-21 conversion on their next sequence, but Devin Lucien bobbled a catch deep over the middle of the field that fell incomplete. 

Brissett seemed to make a couple of relatively difficult throws during his time on the field -- he nearly had a game-winning touchdown pass completed to Cody Hollister on a fade to the back corner of Houston's end zone, but Hollister got just one foot in-bounds -- yet he wished he could have done more to spark the Patriots offense quickly.

"I think I'm throwing the ball good," he said. "I don't think that's the issue. I think it's more so just my eyes and the timing of everything. I don't think it's throwing -- actually throwing. I think it's the mechanics of playing the game."

There was some good to be taken from Brissett's brief outing. After taking over possession with less than two minutes left, he helped the Patriots get deep into Texans territory with completions to Lucien, Sam Cotton and a third-down strike to DJ Foster. He also avoided a near sack, getting out of bounds to stop the clock, and he wisely spiked the football into the turf when he realized Houston had figured out another screen was coming.

Brissett looked back on where the third-team offense was at the start of camp -- with players like receivers Tony Washington and KJ Maye having just been added to the roster -- and pointed out that he felt they were significantly ahead of where they were then.

"I think we've gotten a lot better," Brissett said. "Just this two-minute drive is a good example. Last week we didn't make it past, what, the 40-yard line [against Jacksonville]? This week we're in the red zone with a chance to win the game. I think a lot of our young guys are stepping up and making plays and we're getting a little continuity together."

As for Brissett himself? The 2016 third-round pick has been the subject of some media speculation as to whether or not his spot on the 53-man roster is safe. After seeing some inconsistency in his play during camp practices and last week's game against the Jaguars, there were those who wondered if he was progressing at a rate that would help him survive this year's cutdown date. 

Asked to give a self-evaluation after the Texans game, Brissett said, "I definitely want to do more and play better, but there are good things getting done, good learning experiences. Moving in the right direction . . . 

"I feel like I'm still getting better. I think I'm doing good things. I mean, this league is hard. You just continue to work on things and continue to get better. Yeah, [tonight] the end result is a loss, but there were some good things we did out there. Some things it's good to get on film and learn from. It's a learning experience. That's what this is right now."

Whether the coaching staff sees the improvement Brissett described is unclear. 

"We've all got a long way to go," Belichick said following Saturday's game when asked about Brissett's progress. "I don't think anybody's where we need to be. Any player. Any coach. Any anybody . . . Just grinding it out. It's going to take a while."

Brissett insisted that coaches have been just as tight-lipped behind the scenes when it comes to how they've seen him grow summer. 

"I don't know what they think," Brissett said with a smile. "They don't tell me . . . I'm putting my best foot forward. It's up to them if they think I've been getting better or not."