Malcolm Butler

Patriots Release CB Malcolm Butler From IR

Malcolm Butler could play in 2022, after all. The Patriots released the veteran cornerback from IR with an injury settlement, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). It is a six-week injury settlement, Field Yates of ESPN.com adds (via Twitter), suggesting a recovery timetable that could allow for an October return.

Following a preseason opener where he got an extended look alongside backups, Butler was absent from practice before later landing on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. That transaction meant Butler wouldn’t be eligible to play for the Patriots during the 2022 campaign, although his two-year contract left the door open for a return in 2023. Instead, the two sides decided to move on, meaning the cornerback can now join another team and potentially play this upcoming season.

This officially ends Butler’s second stint in New England. His first stint saw him evolve from UDFA to Super Bowl hero following his game-winning interception in Super Bowl XLIX. Butler ended up spending four seasons in New England, earning a Pro Bowl nod and two Super Bowl rings (plus a major what-if SB loss where he was relegated to one special teams snap). He inked a five-year, $61MM deal with the Titans in 2018, and he made it three seasons through that deal before earning his walking papers following the 2020 season.

He caught on with the Cardinals prior to the 2021 campaign, but right before the start of the regular season, he announced that he was retiring from the NFL for personal reasons. Despite his time away, the Patriots clearly believed that he could still be productive when they gave him a two-year deal. Assuming Butler wants to stick around the league, a cornerback-needy team will surely come knocking sooner than later.

Patriots Place CB Malcolm Butler On IR

It sounds like Malcolm Butler‘s comeback attempt with the Patriots has come to an end. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the Patriots have placed the cornerback on injured reserve. Considering the timing of the transaction, Butler is ineligible to be activated during the 2022 campaign.

[RELATED: Joejuan Williams Suffers Season-Ending Shoulder Injury]

Butler returned from his one-year hiatus and inked a two-year deal with the Patriots this offseason. There was initial fanfare surrounding the signing, with some hoping the former Super Bowl hero could slide into a secondary that lost Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson in less than a calendar year. However, reports indicated that he was falling down the depth chart throughout training camp, with Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus suggesting the veteran could even be a cut candidate. Instead of saving a hair under $1.5MM by cutting Butler, the Patriots decided to place him on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury, a hint that the team may look to keep him around for the 2023 season.

After joining the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2014, Butler served as a reserve corner until being called into action in Super Bowl XLIX and making one of the most famous interceptions in NFL history. Butler was awarded the starting gig the following year and kept that job until signing with the Titans as a free agent in 2018. He continued to start in Tennessee for three years before being released as a cap casualty after the 2020 season. Butler rebounded quickly, signing a deal to join the Cardinals, but just prior to the start of the 2021 season, Butler decided to retire for personal reasons. The last time he played, Butler collected a career-high 100 tackles and four interceptions in 16 starts for Tennessee in 2020.

The Patriots are now down two cornerbacks after the team revealed earlier today that Joejuan Williams suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Jalen Mills has come on strong in training camp, and he’ll likely be joined in the starting lineup by free agent acquisition Terrance Mitchell and nickelback Jonathan Jones. Third-round rookie Marcus Jones and (especially) fourth-round rookie Jack Jones have earned high praise during minicamp and training camp, and their presence may have made Butler’s “injury” a bit more tolerable.

Patriots Notes: Parker, Tackles, Cornerback

After seven years with the rival Dolphins, wide receiver DeVante Parker is set to be a difference-maker in the Patriots offense this season, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss. With the early days of camp in New England focusing on the red zone, Parker’s 6’3″, 219 lb. frame has been on full display.

The Patriots don’t have a traditional No. 1 receiver this season. They return last year’s top-three receivers, Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor, and they recently traded away former first-round pick N’Keal Harry. They also drafted Baylor wide receiver Tyquan Thornton in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Without a bona fide star in the receiving corps, they’ll count on each receiver to contribute their own versatile skills to the offense, and Parker’s, it appears, will come in handy in the restricted confines of the red zone.

Here are a few other notes from Patriots training camp, as reported by Reiss:

  • After spending last season with Isaiah Wynn at left tackle and Trent Brown at right tackle, spring ball saw the two swap sides. Head coach Bill Belichick downplayed it as a way to build versatility in his top offensive linemen, a worthwhile trait to shield from injury, but it may end up being a permanent change. As New England opened up training camp this week, Wynn and Brown remained switched at right and left tackle, respectively. Brown has even reportedly been “feeling (at) home” on the left side of the line.
  • According to Reiss, one of the biggest remaining question marks on the Patriots’ roster is at cornerback opposite Jalen Mills. The top-two options so far in camp have been veterans Terrance Mitchell and Malcolm Butler. Mitchell got the first opportunity of camp and received praise from Belichick in early practices. Butler returns to the team this summer after a three-year vacation in Nashville and a one-year retirement after signing to play for the Cardinals. He admits he’s still “getting in shape” after not playing at all in 2021. Reiss reports that rookie fourth-round pick Jack Jones is next in line, ahead of rookie third-round pick Marcus Jones, and returning backups Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Justin Bethel, and Shaun Wade.

Malcolm Butler Favorite To Start For Patriots

Cornerback Malcolm Butler was called back into action in New England after the Patriots lost J.C. Jackson to the Chargers in free agency this offseason. Despite not appearing in a game since the end of the 2020 NFL season, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports that Butler is a favorite to win the starting cornerback job across from Jalen Mills

After joining the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2014, Butler served as a reserve corner until being called into action in Super Bowl XLIX and making one of the most famous interceptions in NFL history. Butler was awarded the starting job the following season and stayed there until signing with the Titans as a free agent in 2018. He continued to start in Tennessee for three years before being released as a cap casualty after the 2020 season.

Butler rebounded quickly, signing a deal to join the Cardinals, but, just prior to the start of the 2021 season, Butler decided to retire for personal reasons. His retirement never sounded very final, but he never appeared in a game that season and Arizona formally released him this past February.

Butler rejoins a room that now holds Mills as a starter and Jonathan Jones as a starting nickel corner. The Patriots brought in Terrance Mitchell while returning Joejuan Williams, Shaun Wade, and Justin Bethel. New England also used a fourth-round pick this year to draft Jack Jones out of Arizona State. Out of the available options, Mitchell is most likely to give Butler competition for the job, but Butler’s experience and familiarity will afford the 32-year-old a bit of an advantage.

Contract Details: Armstead, MVS, Douglas, Peterson, Peppers, Butler, Barnett, Harris

Here are the latest details from contracts recently agreed to around the NFL:

  • Terron Armstead, T (Dolphins): Five years, $75MM. In addition to a $12MM signing bonus, Armstead’s $43.37MM guarantee includes his 2022 and ’23 base salaries ($1.1MM, $9MM), Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. Armstead’s $13.25MM 2024 base salary is guaranteed for injury at signing. The deal includes $2.5MM-per-year incentives for playing time and Pro Bowl accolades, Wilson adds (on Twitter).
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR (Chiefs): Three years, $30MM. Valdes-Scantling’s $18MM guaranteed includes a $6MM signing bonus and a fully guaranteed 2022 base salary ($2.56MM), Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. The Chiefs have some flexibility in 2023. MVS has $6.4MM of his $8.6MM 2023 salary guaranteed for injury at signing; that shifts to a full guarantee if the wideout is on Kansas City’s roster on Day 3 of the 2023 league year. Valdes-Scantling’s $11.6MM 2024 base is nonguaranteed.
  • Rasul Douglas, CB (Packers): Three years, $21MM. The Packers gave Douglas a $5.3MM signing bonus and have him tied to base salaries of $1.1MM, $2.25MM and $6.25MM, Wilson tweets. Douglas will collect a $2MM roster bonus if he is on Green Bay’s roster on Day 3 of the 2023 league year.
  • Derek Barnett, DE (Eagles): Two years, $13.2MM. Barnett will see $7MM fully guaranteed, which includes $5.5MM in Year 1 and $1.5MM in Year 2, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes (Twitter links). The Eagles guaranteed $1.5MM of Barnett’s 2023 salary and will guarantee $2MM more of that $7.5MM figure if he is on their roster on Day 3 of the 2023 league year. There are $9MM in incentives available, Wilson tweets.
  • Malcolm Butler, CB (Patriots): Two years, $9MM. The Patriots only guaranteed the recently unretired cornerback $750K, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets. That comes via a $500K signing bonus and a $250K guarantee of Butler’s 2022 base salary. Butler’s cap numbers check in at $2.22MM and $2.75MM.
  • Patrick Peterson, CB (Vikings): One year, $4MM. In addition to the $3.5MM guaranteed Peterson will collect, Wilson notes the Vikings included $1MM in playing-time and playoff incentives (Twitter link). The team tacked a void year onto the deal.
  • Anthony Harris, S (Eagles): One year, $2.5MM. The Eagles are guaranteeing $1MM of Harris’ $2MM base salary, Wilson tweets.
  • Jabrill Peppers, S (Patriots): One year, $2MM. The Patriots are giving Peppers a $300K signing bonus and guaranteeing his $1.1MM base salary, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The deal includes $3MM in playing-time incentives.

Patriots To Sign Malcolm Butler

Malcolm Butler is returning to where his NFL career began. The veteran cornerback is signing with the Patriots on a two-year contract worth up to $9MM (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter). 

Butler, 32, joined the Patriots as a UDFA in 2014. The final play he made in his rookie season – the game-winning interception in Super Bowl XLIX – remains what he is best known for. From that point on, he established himself as a productive corner, earning his lone Pro Bowl nod the following season.

In 2018, the West Alabama alum signed with the Titans on a five-year, $61.25MM contract. He remained a starter throughout his his three seasons there, putting up his most productive season in 2020 with 110 tackles and four interceptions. However, he was released last offseason.

Butler then signed a contract with the Cardinals, but he stepped away from the team just before the season began. That led many to believe that his career was over, and he missed the entire 2021 campaign. However, he aimed at a comeback by visiting the Texans, then the Patriots, this month. The team is banking on Butler being able to return to his previous form, as he ranked 15th amongst corners in PFF grade (74.5) in 2020.

The signing comes after the Patriots lost J.C. Jackson to the Chargers in free agency. While Butler likely won’t replicate the statistical success of Jackson in terms of interceptions, he should bring a veteran presence to New England’s secondary, which ranked second against the pass in 2021.

Patriots Meeting With Leonard Fournette, Working Out Malcolm Butler

Two notable names are in Foxborough today. Free agent running back Leonard Fournette is visiting the Patriots, per ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Patriots To Re-Sign OT Brown]

Fournette, 27, spent the past two seasons in Tampa Bay after three seasons with the Jaguars. He took on a much larger role in his second year with the Bucs, receiving 249 touches compared to 133 the previous campaign. He totalled 812 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, adding 69 catches for 454 yards and another two scores in the passing game.

The former fourth-overall pick would represent a significant addition to the Patriots’ run game. While New England ranked eighth in the league in rushing last season, Fournette’s pedigree and production would help strengthen the position group, currently headed by Damien Harris and Rhamondre StevensonOn the other hand, Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times notes that the Buccaneers “would love” to retain the former LSU star (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe reports that the team is working out former cornerback Malcolm ButlerThe 32-year-old didn’t play in 2021, having walked away from the Cardinals near the beginning of the season due to personal reasons, but he took a step towards a comeback by visiting the Texans earlier this month.

Butler spent his first four seasons with the Patriots, a stretch which included two Super Bowl victories and his only Pro Bowl appearance. That earned him a big payday courtesy of Tennessee, where he played for three years. His final campaign with the Titans was highly productive – 100 tackles, four interceptions and 14 pass breakups – but he was released in a cost-cutting move.

Butler would likely help fill the void left by the free agency departure of J.C. Jackson in the Patriots’ secondary. If he and/or Fournette were to land in New England, they would mark significant moves in what has been a relatively quiet offseason so far for the team.

Malcolm Butler Visiting Texans

After spending all of the 2021 campaign away from football, Malcolm Butler is taking a step towards a comeback today. Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson reports that the veteran corner is visiting the Texans. 

[RELATED: Malcom Butler Released, Considering Comeback]

The 32-year-old stepped away from the Cardinals just before the start of the campaign, citing personal reasons. That seemed to mark an abrupt end to a career which includes a Pro Bowl and two Super Bowls – one of which, of course, is most remembered for the game-winning interception he was responsible for.

After four seasons with the Patriots, including three as a starter, the former UDFA joined the Titans. His third and final campaign in Nashville, 2020, was his most productive; Butler racked up 100 tackles, four interceptions and 14 pass breakups. To save cap space and get out of another two years on his contract, however, the team released him last March.

Given his age and pedigree, Butler could add at least a useful, experienced piece to a Houston secondary which ranked 23rd against the pass in 2021. On that point, Wilson further reports that the Texans are “working to retain” fellow veteran CB Desmond King. The pending free agent signed a one-year deal last offseason, and played well enough (despite shifting to the outside, as opposed to his more natural slot position) to warrant a new deal.

The Texans are also working out free agent corner Isaac Yiadom, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter link). The 26-year-old has spent four seasons in the NFL, most recently in Green Bay where he almost exclusively played on special teams.

Cardinals Release Malcolm Butler From Reserve/Retired List; CB Considering Comeback

Malcolm Butler did not play in 2021, informing the Cardinals of a retirement decision just before the season began. While the Cards previously held Butler’s rights, the former Super Bowl hero is unattached again.

The Cardinals released Butler from their reserve-retired list Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This might not be a formality, with Rapoport adding the veteran cover man is considering a comeback. Butler has been working out regularly in preparation for a likely return, per NFL.com’s Mike Giardi (on Twitter).

Arizona defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said just before last season a Butler comeback remained in play, but he stayed retired. Butler will turn 32 in two weeks. His retirement decision left the Cardinals shorthanded on the outside last season, though Robert Alford‘s return after two injury-nixed years helped the playoff-qualifying team’s cause. Alford is now on track for free agency.

Prior to the late-summer retirement, Butler logged seven NFL seasons and did well for himself financially despite arriving in the league as a UDFA. The Patriots slapped a first-round RFA tender on Butler in 2017, and the Titans gave him a five-year, $61.25MM deal in 2018 as a free agent. Tennessee bailed on that contract last March. Arizona signed Butler to a one-year, $3.25MM accord weeks later.

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.