BROCKTON, Mass. -- When the New England Patriots traded defensive end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals in a blockbuster move Tuesday, one of the primary motivations was financial planning. Jones was scheduled to earn $7.79 million in 2016 and was part of a core group of defenders including linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins, defensive end Jabaal Sheard and cornerback Malcolm Butler who are in line for big-money extensions.
The Patriots knew they'd be hard-pressed to keep them all, so they bailed out on Jones a year early and received two assets that are valuable to them in return (2016 second-round pick, guard Jonathan Cooper's rare athletic traits).
Soon enough, the club will probably aggressively pursue extensions with the remaining players, but Butler said Wednesday it's not occupying his mind.
"One day it's going to come. You just can't ignore it. I'm just going with the flow, doing my job, making sure I come back in shape, make sure that I come back ready to go and if it happens, it happens," he said following a community event in which he talked to students in Brockton about bullying.
"I want it to happen, but I can't control the things I can't control. I'm just playing football, glad to be in the NFL, glad to be a Patriots player and I couldn't ask for anything more."
Butler, 26, is scheduled to earn $600,000 in 2016, making him one of the league's best bargains. That salary was part of the three-year contract he signed as an undrafted free agent out of West Alabama when he was simply hoping to stick on the roster.
"I came from nothing. I'm blessed to have everything I have, and whatever happens, happens," he relayed.
As for if his mindset might change because of the contract situation, Butler added, "I play cornerback in the NFL. I'm not the GM, I'm not the player personnel or anything like that. Whatever happens, happens. No matter what, I'm going to play football the same way."
That's because in a span of two years, Butler has been given a crash course in the business of the NFL. He saw it again with the trade of Jones.
"Chandler is a great person, and it's just a business. It's the NFL. Good luck to him. He's an amazing person, a funny guy. Hate to lose him. But it's a business," he said.
As for his own business this offseason, Butler acknowledged how it's been much more low-key than last year after the Super Bowl.
"I feel like I went like three weeks without getting any sleep. I rode planes for like two weeks straight," he said. "I'm enjoying the down time, relaxing, working hard, bettering myself as a person, learning myself, learning how to handle my life. It's a learning process. I've learned a lot the whole year, especially after being thrown into an unknown person to a well-known person."