AFC Notes: Butler, Brady, Mariota, Ravens

It didn’t take long for Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler to come back down to earth this spring. The Patriots cornerback was reportedly benched by Bill Belichick for a handful of the team’s on-field practices during OTAs after he missed the first voluntary session due to a travel issue.

Now, sources tell that the NFL Players Association has filed a complaint against the Patriots on Butler’s behalf, though the complaint was filed without the cornerback’s approval or involvement. Within the complaint, the union cited Article 21 of the CBA, which states that a player’s absence from a voluntary activity can’t result in “adverse consequences affecting his working conditions.”

While we wait to see what comes of the latest case involving the Patriots, let’s round up a few more items from across the AFC….

  • Marc Ganis, who is the president of SportsCorp consulting firm and is close with many NFL owners, thinks a decision on Tom Brady‘s suspension appeal will come “sooner rather than later,” writes Howard Ulman of The Associated Press. Ganis points out that the league has already been criticized for the way the DeflateGate situation has dragged on, though I think the NFL is unlikely to speed things along now after moving deliberately for months. I don’t expect we’ll hear a ruling on Brady’s appeal until at least mid-July.
  • Titans GM Ruston Webster recently suggested that it wouldn’t be a big deal if unsigned first-round pick Marcus Mariota missed a few days of training camp, but the QB tells NFL Media’s Tiffany Blackmon that training camp is still a “long ways off,” as Gregg Rosenthal of details. “It’s the furthest thing from my mind,” Mariota said. “My agent is going to do his job. He’s going to do whatever it takes. It’s a business deal it takes some time. I’m happy to be a part of the organization and I’m sure it will work out.” I’d be very surprised if Mariota still didn’t have a contract in place by the time Tennessee’s training camp begins.
  • In his latest piece for Over The Cap, Jason Fitzgerald identifies Joe Flacco‘s contract with the Ravens as the least team-friendly quarterback deal in the NFL.
  • Taking into account the Ravens‘ roster patterns from recent seasons, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun predicts what this year’s squad might look like.
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