Malcolm Butler

Cardinals DC: Malcolm Butler Could Return

Even after placing him on the reserve/retired list, Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph won’t rule out a Malcolm Butler return (Twitter link via Darren Urban of the team website). Joseph added that he spoke with Butler as recently as last week, a sign that he could retake the field at some point this year.

Butler has not disclosed his reasons for walking away, but Joseph said it has to do with personal matters rather than his on-field play. That checks out, considering the 31-year-old finished 2020 as Pro Football Focus’ No. 15 ranked corner in the NFL. It was a strong comeback after he missed much of 2019. All in all, he finished with four interceptions and 100 total tackles — a new career high — while playing a full 16-game slate. He also wrapped with the lowest yards-per-completion and yards-per-target numbers of his Tennessee tenure.

Butler was expected to play a key role in Arizona’s secondary after inking a fully guaranteed $3.25MM deal with Arizona. Without him, they’ll be leaning more on Byron Murphy, rookie fourth-round pick Marco Wilson, and Robert Alford for coverage.

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Cardinals Place Malcolm Butler On Reserve/Retired List

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It appears Malcolm Butler may really be walking away from the game. The Cardinals have placed the veteran corner on the reserve/retired list, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

We heard yesterday that Butler was mulling retirement, and it looks like he’s made up his mind. It was reported yesterday that the former Patriot and Titan was “dealing with a personal situation,” although details were light. All we know is that Butler has been away from the team recently. Apparently both retirement and “stepping away” were both options, so it’s possible this isn’t anything permanent.

Butler is of course known for his Super Bowl heroics with the Patriots, and he spent the last three seasons in Tennessee. Even though he was cut by the Titans this offseason, he received strong marks from Pro Football Focus for his work in 2020. He landed a fully guaranteed one-year deal worth $3.25MM from Arizona, and was expected to be a starter on Vance Joseph’s defense.

The last minute change of plans will leave the Cards a bit undermanned in their secondary after they let longtime starter Patrick Peterson walk this offseason. It looks like fourth-round rookie Marco Wilson or veteran Robert Alford will now be counted on to start in Butler’s place.

Of course, we all hope that whatever Butler is dealing with off the field isn’t anything too bad, and we wish him well with whatever his future holds.

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Cardinals CB Malcolm Butler Mulling Retirement

Cardinals cornerback Malcolm Butler is considering hanging up his cleats. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports (via Twitter) that the veteran is “dealing with a personal situation that has him mulling retirement.”

As Garofolo notes, the situation led to Butler being away from team facilities within the last week. The cornerback is still trying to work his way through the situation, and both retirement or “stepping away from the game” remain options. The Cardinals did not provide a comment to Garafolo, while the player’s agent didn’t respond to calls.

After getting cut by the Titans earlier this offseason, Butler inked a fully guaranteed $3.25MM deal with the Cardinals. The 31-year-old was expected to play a key role in Arizona’s secondary. If the veteran does indeed step away from the game, the team could be forced to turn to rookie fourth-round pick Marco Wilson or veteran Robert Alford to fill in as a starter.

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.

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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 NFL.com 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 NFL.com 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 ESPN.com 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 ESPN.com’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 NFL.com 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.