New England Patriots Rumors: Sign or pass on 3 free agent targets

Leonard Fournette #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Leonard Fournette #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Malcolm Butler #21 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots free agent target No. 2: Malcolm Butler

That’s right; our old friend Malcolm Butler was brought into Foxboro this afternoon for a visit with the Patriots, potentially bringing the veteran cornerback back to the place where his career took off. Last time we saw Butler in a Patriots uniform, it was during his controversial benching in Super Bowl LII, a game New England eventually ended up losing. I stand by my claim that if Butler played in that game, the Pats wouild have won.

That game didn’t feel like a proper conclusion to Butler’s career in New England, one that started with his infamous goal line interception against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. Yet Butler would go on to sign a five year, $61 million deal with the Tennessee Titans shortly after. He would get released after three seasons, before signing with the Arizona Cardinals last offseason.

If it feels like Butler’s name didn’t come up much during the 2021 season, that was because Butler announced his retirement right before the start of the regular season, seemingly putting an end to his NFL career. However, the Cardinals released him shortly after the end of the season, and Butler is now looking to make a return to the NFL, which might just end up being with the Patriots.

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Butler’s tenure with the Titans didn’t go all too well, as he was consistently picked on in coverage, which led to Tennessee cutting him. His best season was probably his most recent one in 2020, but even then he wasn’t very good, as he allowed 80 completions for 873 yards and five touchdowns. He still had his moments, as he picked up 100 tackles and four interceptions, but his overall coverage numbers weren’t very good.

With the New England Patriots needing help at cornerback thanks to the departure of J.C. Jackson, it makes sense that they are looking at Butler. He’s a cheap option who has familiarity with the system. Butler made a name for himself as a scrappy man coverage corner, and it wasn’t exactly surprising to see him struggle once he moved to a scheme that didn’t suit his skills.


There’s really no reason to not bring Butler back to Gillette Stadium. The Patriots could probably pick him up for close to the veterans minimum given he didn’t play football last season, and as mentioned earlier, he has familiarity playing in this defense. If he doesn’t pan out, who cares? There’s virtually no risk associated with bringing in Butler on a cheap one year deal, so they may as well take a flier on him given how big of a need cornerback is right now.