The New England Patriots will host their mandatory minicamps this week from Tuesday, June 7th through Thursday, June 9th. These practices are closed to the public but they are open to the media so we will get some good, solid information this week.
The first piece of good news is regarding the availability of cornerback Malcolm Butler. Butler will be a restricted free agent after the 2016 season and the current belief is that he wants his new contract before the start of the year. According to the Herald's Jeff Howe, that desire will not play a role in whether or not he will attend camp.
As a follow-up, Malcolm Butler did indeed return to practice last week, per source. He'll be at minicamp this week, too.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) June 6, 2016
So again, Butler was not protesting his contract by missing practice a couple weeks ago. https://t.co/WAWHCkUsF3— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) June 6, 2016
Butler was not present at the first organized team activity that was open to the media and it led to rampant speculation that it was connected to his desire for a new contract. Butler has gone into damage control by explaining that his absence had nothing to do with making a point about a new contract.
There's no reason to really think otherwise. Butler can want a new deal, and can skip a voluntary practice for reasons unrelated. For example, fellow cornerback Logan Ryan will be a free agent looking for a new contract after this year and missed the same practice- but he was busy getting married.
After this week, the Patriots will have organized team activities that are closed to the public on June 13th, 14th, and 16th- next Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. We will have a lot of information to analyze over the coming weeks.
What will you be looking for?