Malcolm Butler

Malcolm Butler, A.J. Bouye Expressed Interest In Joining Cowboys

As the draft approaches, cornerback continues to be a need area for the Cowboys. While they re-signed Jourdan Lewis this offseason, the Cowboys received interest from multiple veterans with more experience.

Both Malcolm Butler and A.J. Bouye expressed an interest in joining the Cowboys, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes, and each third-contract-seeking vet was willing to take a discount to do so. However, Dallas was not open to that prospect — even at lower rates than the corners ended up signing for — and moved on, Hill adds.

The Titans and Broncos, respectively, made Butler and Bouye cap casualties this offseason. Butler ended up signing a one-year, $3.25MM deal with the Cardinals. Bouye joined the Panthers late last week, agreeing to a two-year, $7MM pact. Butler’s contract is fully guaranteed, while Bouye will receive $3.5MM fully guaranteed. That will tie him to the Panthers for the 2021 season. These third contracts represent steep downgrades. Butler, 31, signed a five-year, $61.25MM deal with the Titans in 2018; Bouye, 29, landed with the Jaguars on a five-year, $67.5MM deal in 2017. They joined many free agents in taking major discounts this offseason, which featured a near-$20MM salary cap reduction.

The Cowboys communicated to both defenders they did not have the money to sign them, Hill notes. The team has added a host of free agents, but they have largely been on low-end contracts. As of Monday, Dallas holds just less than $8MM in cap space. Much of that will go to signing draft picks.

Dallas drafted Trevon Diggs in last year’s second round and used a fourth-round pick on Reggie Robinson. Slot corner Anthony Brown is signed through the 2022 season. Lewis re-signed a three-year, $13.5MM deal; only $4.75MM of that is fully guaranteed. Despite these investments, the Cowboys are expected to add a corner early in the draft, Hill adds, perhaps with the No. 10 overall pick.

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Cardinals Sign Malcolm Butler

The Cardinals have signed Malcolm Butler, per a club announcement. The veteran cornerback heads to Arizona on a one-year deal, giving the Cardinals yet another big-name veteran. 

[RELATED: Cardinals Sign A.J. Green]

The Titans cut Butler earlier this month to save $10.2MM against the salary cap. Previous to that, they had just $1MM in breathing room. Butler, a one-time Super Bowl hero, spent three seasons with the Titans, but the remainder of his five-year, $61.25MM contract was too much for Tennessee.

Butler, 31, finished 2020 as Pro Football Focus’ No. 15 corner in the NFL. It was a strong return — he missed much of 2019, but he suited up for all 16 games last year while nabbing four interceptions and 100 total tackles (a new career high). All in all, he posted the lowest yards-per-completion and yards-per-target numbers of his Tennessee tenure.

The loss of Patrick Peterson prompted the Cardinals to seek out cornerback support. Butler should go a long way towards solidifying the position with Byron Murphy in the slot and Robert Alford (if healthy) as the CB2.

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Titans To Release CB Malcolm Butler

The Titans will opt out of the final two years of Malcolm Butler‘s contract. They are releasing the veteran cornerback, Ian Rapoport of tweets.

Cutting Butler will save the Titans $10.2MM. Ahead of this transaction, Tennessee held barely $1MM in cap space. The former Super Bowl hero spent three seasons with the Titans, signing a lucrative contract in 2018.

Tennessee added Butler on a five-year, $61.25MM deal in 2018. Although Butler turned 31 last week, the former UDFA will again generate interest as a free agent. He finished last season as Pro Football Focus’ No. 15 overall corner, playing 16 games after an injury-shortened 2019 slate. Butler intercepted four passes in 2020 and finished with the lowest yards-per-completion and yards-per-target figures of his Tennessee run.

A cornerback overhaul may be in the cards for the defending AFC South champions, who let Logan Ryan walk in free agency last year. They have Adoree’ Jackson going into a non-guaranteed $10.2MM fifth-year option season. After Jackson played in just three games last season, he could well be on track to join Butler in free agency soon. The Titans can only cut Jackson if he passes a physical, with the options for players drafted in the 2017 first round guaranteed for injury only.

The Titans also have two offensive free agents who should expected to be coveted next week. Funds from the Butler release could go to retaining either Jonnu Smith or Corey Davis. The Titans did not use their franchise tag this year.

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Titans Place Malcolm Butler On IR

The Titans are losing a key piece of their secondary, as the team is placing cornerback Malcolm Butler on injured reserve today, they announced in a release. To replace him on the roster they’re re-signing cornerback Tye Smith, who was waived over the weekend.

Butler was an every down player for the Titans, so this is a big loss. He broke his wrist during Sunday’s loss to the Panthers, and will now miss the rest of the season unless Tennessee is making a playoff run and he’s able to come back in eight weeks. Butler, the hero of Super Bowl XLIX, signed a massive five-year $61MM contract with the Titans last offseason. His first year with Tennessee was a bit of a disappointment, but he had been better so far this season.

Through nine games, Butler had 32 tackles, nine passes defended, and a pair of interceptions. The Titans had been rejuvenated by the insertion of Ryan Tannehill under center, but their momentum has now been blunted by the loss to Carolina, and losing Butler certainly won’t help an inconsistent defense. Smith was drafted by the Seahawks in the fifth-round back in 2015, and has been with the Titans for the past three seasons.

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Titans’ Malcolm Butler Done For Season?

Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler could be done for the season, head coach Mike Vrabel says (Twitter link via Jim Wyatt of the team’s website). Butler broke his wrist on Sunday and that could spell a bad break for the 4-5 Titans. 

Surgery is a possibility for Butler, who is in Year 2 of a five-year, $61MM deal. So far this year, he has two interceptions and 32 tackles to his credit with starts in every game.

Butler landed awkwardly after trying to defend against Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel in the end zone. Samuel scored, Butler grabbed his wrist, and the Panthers went on to win 30-20.

The sixth-year veteran has started every game for the Titans over the past two seasons. This year, Butler ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 43 overall cornerback. The Titans have devoted considerable resources to this position, with Butler joining fellow eight-figure-per-year player Logan Ryan and recent first-rounder Adoree’ Jackson. The latter two will have to pick up the slack in Tennessee.

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Patriots Were Open To Re-Signing Malcolm Butler

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick‘s decision to bench cornerback Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII was one of the league’s top storylines immediately after the Super Bowl, and even though Butler had unequivocally stated just a few days prior that he wanted to remain in New England in 2018 and beyond, the benching suggested to everyone that Butler would not be returning to the Patriots.

And indeed, although reports suggested that a number of teams expressed interest in Butler, who became an unrestricted free agent in March, the Patriots were not one of the teams named in those reports. But Ian Rapoport of writes that New England was, in fact, open to a Butler return. The team reportedly told Butler’s agent to reach out if he could not garner a free agent contract to his liking, and Rapoport even suggests that the Pats were prepared to pay Butler $10MM per season. That report is even more surprising in light of the fact that the Patriots were prepared to trade Butler to New Orleans before the 2017 season even began and again at the 2017 trade deadline.

Of course, Butler ended up accepting a five-year, $61.25MM contract with the Titans, and Tennessee may now be wishing that Butler had taken New England up on its offer. Butler regressed in 2017, and he has not been able to return to form in Nashville. Advanced metrics peg him as one of the worst cornerbacks in the game this year, and although Rapoport confirms a report from earlier this week that the Titans do not plan to relieve Butler of his starting duties at the moment, he will need to improve considerably in order to play out the remainder of his contract.

Butler will have a chance to rebound against his old team today, as the Patriots are in Tennessee for an early afternoon matchup.

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South Rumors: Irvin, Dez, Fitz, Titans

Bruce Irvin clearing waivers and landing with the Falcons gives him a chance to earn nearly $10MM this season. His one-year (or, eight-game) Falcons deal is worth $1.5MM, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. Irvin was playing on an $8MM salary with the Raiders this season, and Florio notes he can recoup the balance of that salary ($3.76MM) by filing a termination pay claim. Vested veterans (at least four seasons’ experience) can do this one in their careers, and this may be the most money Irvin, 31, can claim through this measure. Total, the seventh-year veteran can collect $9.75MM this season. Considering he entered the year with no more guarantees remaining in his deal, that’s not a bad haul.

Here’s more from the Irvin front, along with the latest from the South divisions:

  • With Irvin rejoining a Dan Quinn defense, this one housing recent first-round defensive ends Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley, he won’t be the unquestioned top edge rusher like he was in Oakland. However, Quinn — who coached Irvin with the Seahawks — is planning a NASCAR package with the three ends and Grady Jarrett, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Quinn said the team will use the trio on the field together in practice this week in preparation to deploy the speed set a game at some point. The Falcons’ 17 sacks rank 27th in the league. Beasley has just one and is Pro Football Focus’ worst-graded full-time edge defender this season.
  • A six-plus-month stay in free agency ended for Dez Bryant earlier Wednesday, but the new Saints wide receiver is still looking to return to the market in 2019. Bryant wants to prove himself on a contending team and become a free agent again, Adam Schefter of notes. This has been Bryant’s plan all along, and he’ll likely join Tre’Quan Smith as a key complementary receiver for Drew Brees.
  • The Buccaneers won’t be pivoting back to Jameis Winston this week. Dirk Koetter confirmed (via’s Jenna Laine) Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the starter in Week 10. Although Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions in a 42-28 loss to the Panthers, he led the Bucs back from 35-7 and made it a one-score game. Tampa Bay ranks first in pass offense (356.6 yards per game) by more than 30 yards.
  • The TitansMalcolm Butler signing hasn’t worked out the way the team had hoped yet. Signed to a five-year, $61.25MM deal, Butler has struggled in coverage and rates as PFF’s No. 98 cornerback through eight games. Mike Vrabel, though, does not plan to bench Butler. The first-year coach attributes some of the defender’s woes to reading the wrong keys, Mike Garafolo of tweets.
  • Tennessee may have to temporarily demote Jack Conklin, though. The right tackle starter is in concussion protocol after the Titans’ win over the Cowboys. Conklin already missed this season’s first four games because of the ACL tear he suffered in last year’s playoffs. Conklin has started five games this year and was on the field for all 32 Tennessee regular-season contests during his first two NFL seasons.

Extra Points: Manziel, Thomas, Bolts, Browns

It does not appear the Johnny Manziel saga will return to the NFL until at least the end of the decade. Manziel’s two-year contract with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats is a binding deal, and CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweets no escape clause for the purposes of venturing to the NFL exists in the league’s collective bargaining agreement. The CFL previously voted on a possible escape-hatch option, but the proposal was rejected. La Canfora adds Manziel’s professional football options will come exclusively in Canada for the next two years (Twitter link). The NFL may be a faraway bridge considering how the former Heisman Trophy winner fared in his two years with the Browns and the many months that went by without any team showing significant interest.

As for Manziel’s deal, La Canfora reports (on Twitter) the 25-year-old passer will earn a $122K base salary in 2018. An additional $10K signing bonus is included, as well as an $18K housing stipend. La Canfora adds $10K escalators will trigger if Manziel hits six-, 10- and 14-game benchmarks this season. He’ll receive a $120K bonus if he plays in half the snaps, per JLC, and a $75K offseason bonus is due on March 1, 2019. Manziel’s 2019 salary spikes to $202K, and the same incentives are present.

Shifting back to the NFL, here’s the latest:

  • In supporting his former Seahawks teammate, Richard Sherman revealed a bit about Earl Thomas‘ goals for what will be his third NFL contract. “I think Earl Thomas deserves the money he’s asking for,” Sherman told former teammate and current NFL Network analyst Michael Robinson on Saturday (via “I think he deserves to be compensated as the top safety in the league. Whether Seattle does that or not is up to them.” Financial figures haven’t really emerged regarding this potential standoff, but if the Seahawks are to pay top dollar for their three-time All-Pro defender, it will cost them more than $13MM per year. And that could be a bridge too far for a retooling team that’s dangled Thomas in trades. When Thomas agreed to his initial Seattle extension, his $10MM-per-year salary paced NFL safeties. Five are now ahead of him.
  • Hue Jackson has repeatedly said he would like Tyrod Taylor to start throughout this season. But’s Mary Kay Cabot does not see the Browns opting to re-sign Taylor after this season. She expects Mayfield to make a serious charge for the starting role at some point this season. If it turns out Taylor is a catalyst that leads the Browns to a major turnaround, Cabot expects him to hit the market as a coveted commodity — and one the Browns will not be paying for — in 2019.
  • The Chargers drafted Kevin White‘s younger brother, Kyzir White, in the fourth round. And the Bolts will move Kyzir from safety to linebacker, Albert Breer of notes. Denzel Perryman has one of Los Angeles’ linebacker spots locked down, with Kyle Emanuel and former seventh-round pick Hayes Pullard tentatively slotted in the other spots. The Bolts also drafted USC’s Uchenna Nwosu in the second round. But it doesn’t appear White will factor into the Bolts’ safety picture behind Jahleel Addae and Derwin James at this time.
  • The Saints gave UDFA tight end Deon Yelder $90K guaranteed to sign, Joel Erickson of The Advocate notes. A former wide receiver recruit at Western Kentucky, Yelder spent time behind current Rams tight end Tyler Higbee and current Seahawks left tackle George Fant while with the Hilltoppers prior to receiving plenty of playing time last season. New Orleans has struggled to replace Jimmy Graham and recently cut Coby Fleener. Yelder will try to make a team that has 37-year-old Benjamin Watson and Josh Hill atop its depth chart.
  • In a lower-stakes matter, the Patriots have $215 committed to Malcolm Butler on this year’s payroll, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. Apparently, one day of workout cash last offseason didn’t get tallied until now.

This Date In Transactions History: Malcolm Butler

Three years ago today, the Patriots signed several rookies, including fourth-round pick center Bryan Stork and sixth-round guard Jon Halapio. However, New England’s most important move seemingly flew under the radar, as they also signed an undrafted free agent who’d go on to become a Super Bowl hero.

On May 19th, 2014, New England inked undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler to a deal. The West Alabama product was plenty productive during his collegiate career, earning himself a pair of First-Team All-GSC nods. However, the cornerback ended up going undrafted in the 2014 draft, and it took him more than a week to finally latch on with an NFL team. Butler was surprisingly productive during his rookie campaign, compiling 15 tackles and three passes defended for New England. However, his most notable performance was during Super Bowl XLIX, when he picked off a Russell Wilson pass attempt for the championship-winning interception.

Butler parlayed that Super Bowl performance into a starting gig with the Patriots, and he proceeded to earn a 2015 Pro Bowl appearance after finishing with 67 tackles, 15 passes defended, and two interceptions. Following another productive 2016 campaign, Butler and the Patriots seemingly butted heads during the 2017 offseason. The team assigned a first-rounder tender to the restricted free agent (which he ultimately signed), and they proceeded to sign Stephon Gilmore to a lucrative $65MM contract. Butler was demoted to the second spot on the depth chart, and the Patriots’ manipulation of his contract situation led to some ill will.

Butler was productive again in 2017, but he was mysteriously benched during the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Eagles. Butler ended up bolting for Tennessee back in March, signing a five-year, $61MM contract ($30MM guaranteed).

Fortunately for the Patriots, they probably never expected that kind of production from an undrafted rookie. On the flip side, when Butler made the game-winning interception during the Super Bowl, they probably never thought that he’d willingly leave the organization three years later.

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Extra Points: Panthers, Broncos, Cravens, Jets, Titans

Labeled as a frontrunner in the bidding to become the new Panthers owner, businessman Ben Navarro will make a visit to the team’s facilities next week, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports (Twitter link). Person also notes another suitor, Alan Kestenbaum, was in on Wednesday.

A vote on a new owner is expected to take place during late-May meetings in Atlanta, according to David Newton of, who adds a reported sale price of $2.5 billion could potentially be a bit inflated. The last franchise that was sold, the Bills in 2014, went for $1.4 billion.

According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Navarro is already being vetted by the NFL. The South Carolina businessman is the founder of Sherman Financial, but some owners have had concerns about how Navarro made his money.

Navarro and Kestenbaum are joined by Steelers minority owner and hedge-fund billionaire David Tepper as the perceived top contenders to acquire the franchise. The reported sale price has already helped one potential suitor, Michael Rubin, withdraw his name from the running. Rubin’s group reportedly included Sean “Diddy” Combs and two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Thanks to a video produced by Sports Illustrated, we have some insights into the offers received by cornerback Malcolm Butler before he agreed to sign with the Titans. Early on, the Bears pitched him on a three-year, $30MM deal while the Texans offered a one-year contract (value unknown). It seems that Tennessee greatly outbid the other suitors after signing him to a five-year, $61.25MM deal with $24MM fully guaranteed.
  • For their offseason so far, the Jets have received a grade of B- from ESPN’s Rich Cimini. Considering the team whiffed in its pursuit of Kirk Cousins, that’s not a bad grade to receive. Cimini cites, among other things, the team’s addition of Trumaine Johnson as the team’s most significant offseason signing so far.
  • Su’a Cravens, who was acquired by the Broncos from the Redskins earlier this week, told Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post he wanted to play for a team that wanted him. “I can tell that Denver actually wanted me on the team. It wasn’t just, ‘This is smart for our team,” he said. Cravens sat out the entire 2017 season as a member of the Redskins. “I never felt like I could be myself with the Redskins. It’s a blessing obviously to be drafted by the Redskins and I will always thank them for giving me my opportunity. But I just think after my rookie year when I had those injuries, I just felt like things kind of changed.