Could “Malcom, Go” become “Malcolm, Come Back?”
Former New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler will forever be remembered for having the moment most athletes dream of, but rarely achieve.
With 20 seconds remaining in Super Bowl XLIX, the Seattle Seahawks were in position to score at the Patriots’ 1-yard line. On the verge of erasing a four-point New England lead, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tried to find wide receiver Ricardo Lockette on a slat road at the goal line. Butler got the quick jump over Lockette and intercepted Wilson’s pass, returning possession to the Patriots and preserving a 28-24 victory and New England’s fifth Super Bowl championship.
When almost everyone expected Seattle to hand the ball to running back Marshawn Lynch, Butler showed the prowess and instinct that would have earned him a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 and an All-Star nod. -Second-team pro in 2016. The Pats’ corner acknowledged Wilson’s intentions. , after reading the Seahawks’ two-receiver stack formation. Considering Lockette a potential target, Butler made the choice and sealed New England’s victory “From the preparation [by then-Pats’ defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in practice]I remembered the formation they were in… I just beat him on the road and played. The interception was the first of Butler’s NFL career. It was the only interception of a pass attempt from the one-yard line during the 2014 NFL season, out of 109 such attempts.
Seven years later, Butler is now considering a return to the NFL. After spending the last year in retirement, the 32-year-old is at Gillette Stadium on Monday training with the Patriots, according to a report by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
Butler had been released from the reserve/retired roster by the Arizona Cardinals last month, making him an unrestricted free agent. Therefore, if he chooses to return to the NFL, he can do so by signing with the team of his choice.
Already seen in the defensive field?
In addition to his “claim to fame” moment in Super Bowl XLIX, Butler spent 2014-2017 with the Patriots, spending much of that time as the team’s best player in that position. In his four years with the Patriots, Butler had 205 total tackles, 47 passes defended, four forced fumbles [of which he recovered two] and eight interceptions.
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However, his tenure in New England came to an acrimonious end at the end of the 2017 season when he was benched in Super Bowl LII. This would be Butler’s last game with the team.
Butler and the Patriots lost Super Bowl LII to the Philadelphia Eagles, 41–33. Butler didn’t play any defensive snaps in the game, only coming for one game on special teams. After the game, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said his lack of playing time was a “coach’s decision” and not due to disciplinary issues, as many assumed. When asked from the bench, Butler said: “I don’t know what it was. I guess I wasn’t playing well or they didn’t feel comfortable. I don’t know. But I would have could change this game.” The following morning, reports claimed that Belichick had acknowledged that a “much longer discussion” might take place regarding Butler’s absence in defense from the game. It was also revealed that Butler was demoted in practice during the Wild Card round of the playoffs, in which the Patriots had a bye week.
In March 2018, Butler signed a five-year, $61 million contract with the Tennessee Titans. During his three years at Music City, he continued to play at a high level, compiling 201 total tackles, 35 passes defended and nine interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. After being cut by the Titans in March 2021, Butler signed a deal with the Arizona Cardinals. However, he was with Arizona for just a few months in 2021 before calling it a career in August.
While a reunion would make for great media theatre, New England a reunion between the Pats and their former star corner is no guarantee. While neither Butler nor the team appear to have let past feelings prevent his attendance at Foxboro for Monday’s practice, his controversial bench in Super Bowl LII could play a role in his desire (or lack thereof) to play. accepting a contract offer, assuming there is one. More importantly, the parties will need to agree on contractual terms that bring mutual value to each of them.
Still, it will be interesting to watch Butler’s free agency market and how it materializes. He knows the Patriots defensive system well and has played successfully in New England before. If the veteran can be committed to a short-term deal with low financial risk, Butler might find his way back to Foxboro after all.
The Patriots need help at the cornerback position.
Could the butler start again?
Only time will tell.