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Bill Belichick on Darius Butler: ‘Nobody is on a scholarship’

09.07.11 at 3:35 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The release on Wednesday morning of 2009 second-round pick Darius Butler came as a surprise to some.

But if you thought Bill Belichick and the Patriots would hold on to a player simply because of where they were drafted in a particular year, think again.

With Butler in mind, Belichick was asked if it stings more when you have to part with a player you drafted highly as opposed to parting with an undrafted free agent?

“We have a saying around here ‘€“ ‘€˜it doesn’€™t matter how you get here, it’€™s what you do here.’€™ I think that’€™s the way I think we should coach the team and I think that’€™s what the players expect,” Belichick said. “That goes for everybody.”

Butler looked a lot like Devin McCourty in 2009 when – as a rookie out of Connecticut – he had three interceptions, including returning one for touchdown. He also had 33 solo tackles in 14 games. But last year, his numbers dropped sharply as he had just 22 tackles and no interceptions in 15 games. And while showing glimpses in camp and four preseason games, his stock had clearly dropped.

“We made the decision we felt was best for the football team,” Belichick said. “[We] try to put together the most competitive team we can. Obviously there are players that aren’€™t on this team that are good players and they were good players for us and I’€™m sure they’€™ll play for somebody else. But we have to make the decisions we feel are best for our football team so that’€™s what we do.

“Nobody is on a scholarship ‘€“ everybody has to earn their keep,” Belichick said of the corner who was picked up off waivers by Carolina. “It’€™s a competitive situation ‘€“ I think that brings out the best in everybody. [It] brings out the best in guys that are established that they’€™re being pushed, it brings out the best from guys who aren’€™t established who know they have an opportunity. Competition is competition. That’€™s just basing on what the performance is ‘€“ all that is decided on the field.”

Speaking of another player not currently on the Patriots roster, Belichick was asked about the rumors floating out there that Randy Moss would “un-retire” and return to the Patriots if Belichick wanted him. Has he had any contact with Moss or entertained the thought of bringing him back at any point?

“I wouldn’€™t talk about any player that’€™s not on our football team,” Belichick said.

With Moss, the question might not be so much how he gets to Foxboro but if there’s a place for him at all. The answer is still “no” – for now.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Carolina Panthers, Connecticut Huskies, Darius Butler
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