New England Patriots Free Agent Grades: 2 veterans brought on board

Malcolm Butler #21 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Malcolm Butler #21 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

New England Patriots free-agent signing No. 2: Malcolm Butler

Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler officially made his return to New England after spending the past four seasons away from the team. Butler signed a big money deal with the Tennessee Titans after the 2017 season (and the infamous Super Bowl LI benching), but only lasted three seasons there before getting released. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals last offseason, but abruptly retired right before the start of the season.

The Patriots were rumored to be attempting to lure Butler out of retirement last week, as they reportedly brought him in for a visit. I took a look at Butler’s potential fit in a prior article, and assessed that the team should sign him if the price was right. Belichick clearly saw the article and decided that I was right, and handed Butler a deal to come back to New England (yes that was sarcasm).

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Jokes aside, Butler’s contract is a nice low risk deal that the Patriots really had no reason to not pursue. With Jackson joining the Los Angeles Chargers, cornerback is arguably the team’s top need with the NFL Draft creeping up. Butler isn’t the player he once was, but he’s familiar with the team’s defensive system, and given the lack of talent at cornerback on the roster, it made sense to work on a reunion.

Butler’s deal is a two year, $9 million contract that sees him earning an annual average value on $4.5 million. While it’s not exactly a huge amount, it’s surprising to see such a total for a player who didn’t play a down of football last season. Butler is a solid player and scheme fit, but he struggled with the Titans and didn’t even make it through training camp with the Cardinals.


Butler helps address one of the team’s top needs, and while it’s worth a little bit more money than he’s probably worth, it’s nothing to lose sleep over. Butler could immediately come in and fill a starting spot aside Jalen Mills, and while that’s not exactly going to scare opposing quarterbacks, there are worse duos in the league. Butler isn’t the star he once was, but he’s a sold veteran acquisition at a big position of need, and this should end up working out for both sides.