It was a puzzling end to a puzzling Patriots' career for Springs. He started four of the first five games of the season at left cornerback. Then was a reserve for three games, before inexplicably being a healthy scratch for four straight games against Indianapolis, the Jets, New Orleans and Miami, a span during which the Patriots allowed all four of their 100-yard receiving games of 2009 and had Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Chad Henne all throw for 300-plus yards.
Springs said he still never got an explanation for why he was put on hiatus for a quarter of the season.
"I guess it was what it was," said Springs. "We never talked about it really. I just figured I was redshirted."
After losing three of those four games, Springs was reinstated as a starter at left corner for the final four games of the season and the playoff loss to Baltimore. He picked off his only pass of the season in the penultimate regular season game against Jacksonville.
Springs, who was used all over the field during his previous five years in Washington, spent most of the last season with the Patriots practicing at safety, not cornerback. It wasn't until the final four games of the year that he saw significant practice time at corner.
"You have no idea how hard it was for me last year," said Springs.
Springs, who is very close with Bodden, Butler and safety Brandon Meriweather, dismissed the perception that he was part of the team's locker room discord last season. A perception created in part when he and former linebacker Adalius Thomas traded saccharine and seemingly derisive "sorrys" after Thomas was sent home for being late to a team meeting during a December snowstorm.
Springs said he was just joking with Thomas, not trying to undermine Belichick.
"One of the best things about me is my character," said Springs. "I don't think that ever came across as me being a bad influence. That wasn't me being a bad guy. That was me being a jokester."
Despite potential television broadcasting opportunities, Springs said he plans to play in the NFL this year and wouldn't rule out a return to the Patriots -- or Redskins.
Springs also said he wouldn't be surprised to hear from the Patriots AFC East rivals the Jets and Dolphins, and he remains close with his defensive coordinator in Washington, Gregg Williams, who is now the defensive coordinator for the Super Bowl champion Saints.
"I'll have teams calling me, and they won't be [bad] teams," said Springs. "I'm cool.
"I would come back to New England. I wish them the best. I'm going to miss those guys."