FOXBORO, Mass. — Ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the Tennesse Titans, quarterback Tom Brady expressed his admiration for the two former New England Patriots currently patrolling Tennessee’s secondary: cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan.
“I really enjoyed playing with those guys and playing against them (in practice),” Brady said in his Friday news conference at Gillette Stadium. “They certainly challenged us on every play. They’ve gone on to have some really great contracts, and I’m happy for them. They really earned it. I think when you’re a great player, you get the opportunity to do that. I know we can’t keep everybody, but (I’m) obviously happy for them and what they’ve accomplished.”
Butler and Ryan each won two Super Bowls during their respective Patriots tenures, then landed big-money deals with the Titans after hitting free agency for the first time. Ryan signed a three-year, $30 million contract after the 2016 season. Butler’s, which he signed this past offseason, is worth $61.25 million over five years.
“They were hugely impactful in what we were trying to do in the roles that they played,” Brady said. “Logan was a great player, still is — incredible awareness and just such a smart player. And Malcolm, I’ve always loved playing against him and in practice, it was very competitive. He’s a very competitive person. He wants to try to win every play, and hopefully we can have a good plan against that entire defense.”
Brady backed Butler after Patriots coach Bill Belichick unexpectedly benched the cornerback in Super Bowl LII, supporting him on social media and expressing confusion over why he did not play a single defensive snap in the Patriots’ 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. That proved to be Butler’s final game in a Patriots uniform.
After letting Butler walk in free agency, the Patriots replaced him with affordable veteran Jason McCourty, who’s started seven of nine games this season opposite top corner Stephon Gilmore.
Butler, who earned a Pro Bowl selection and a second-team All-Pro nod during his four seasons with the Patriots, has seen his play crater since leaving New England. Nine weeks into his first season with the Titans, he’s allowed the most catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns of any NFL cornerback, according to Pro Football Focus.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, go to ProFootballFocus.com.
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images