According to Adam Schefter, the Patriots will reunite with one of their most notable players of the last decade, cornerback Malcolm Butler, who will reportedly sign a two-year deal worth up to $9 million. Butler was out of football in 2021, but began working out for teams last week with an eye toward returning to the NFL.
Butler made the Patriots as an undrafted rookie in 2014, standing out early and often in training camp making repeated plays on the ball. But he'd have to wait until the Super Bowl that season to make his biggest impact when he was inserted into the lineup against the Seahawks and ended up making one of the most famous interceptions in NFL history that sealed New England's fourth championship.
Butler went on to start three seasons for the Patriots, providing an aggressive, man-cover presence that helped the team win another Super Bowl in 2016. However, Butler barely saw the field in Super Bowl 52 in a loss to the Eagles and subsequently departed in free agency that offseason for the Titans, signing a five-year, $61 million deal.
He played three of those seasons, recording nine total interceptions, but was released following the 2020 season and, despite signing on with the Cardinals in early 2021, Butler retired for personal reasons and spent the season out of football.
After the departure of J.C. Jackson, the Patriots certainly have a need at cornerback, especially if Butler can still play at a high level in his usual style. The 32-year-old's return is a surprise given how his first Patriots tenure ended, but it's a return that is worth taking a shot on for New England as they look to match up with all the weapons in the AFC.