Super Bowl LII was long over, but New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski are both still asking for an explanation about the benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler in their 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Florio reported that Gronkowski, Brady, and other Patriots are still wondering why Butler was benched by head coach Bill Belichick, who hasn’t given a clear answer about his move. Belichick used Butler for one special-teams play despite the cornerback taking practice reps days before the Super Bowl. There were reports that Butler’s benching was a disciplinary measure, but the cornerback said he didn’t violate any team rule days before the Super Bowl.

Florio said there were rumors that Butler may have had an unauthorized visitor in his room during the week before the game, but it was unproven since security at the J.W. Marriott at the Mall of America was too tight. After the Super Bowl, Butler took to social media to deny rumors that he was benched due to a violation of team rule, saying he did not violate any curfew or attend any concert that caused him to miss practice.

Teammates supported Butler after benching

Butler’s post was liked by several current and former Patriots teammates, including Brady, Martellus Bennett, LeGarrette Blount, Jacoby Brissett, Phillip Dorsett, Marquis Flowers, Jimmy Garoppolo, Rob Ninkovich, and James White. Brady even commented “Love you, Malcolm!

You are an incredible teammate and player and friend. Always!” The support that his teammates have shown Butler is an indication that they were against Belichick’s move to bench the cornerback. After signing a two-year deal worth $12 million with the Miami Dolphins, wide receiver Danny Amendola said he asked Belichick about Butler’s benching, but he did not get a clear explanation.

In an interview after he signed a five-year deal worth $61 million with the Tennessee Titans, Butler said he almost confronted Belichick about the benching, but he restrained himself, saying he respects the veteran head coach. When asked by reporters about Butler’s benching, Belichick insisted that he wouldn’t talk about it, but said he has a lot of respect for the cornerback, calling him a great competitor on the field.

Brady, Gronk to return in 2018

According to Florio, despite this dispute over Butler, among other things, the Patriots expect both Brady and Gronkowski to suit up for the 2018 season. Adam Schefter of ESPN said that Brady hasn’t committed to playing in 2018 while Gronkowski has yet to decide on his NFL career. Florio said it’s possible that Gronkowski wants more money from the Patriots. The tight end is scheduled to earn $8 million this season, but he reportedly wants to be paid top tight end money.