The New England Patriots are bringing back a familiar face to try and solidify the secondary. The club has signed veteran cornerback Malcolm Butler to a two-year deal that is worth up to $9 million, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Butler's signing does come after the 32-year-old worked out for his former team earlier this week.
Of course, Butler's history with the Patriots is well-documented. His first stint included signing with the team as an undrafted free agent out of West Alabama in 2014 and ascending into a franchise icon at the end of his rookie year after he hauled in the goal-line interception of Russell Wilson to clinch the Patriots a win in Super Bowl XLIX. He'd follow up that season with a Pro Bowl campaign in his first year as a full-time starter in 2015 and was second-team All-Pro in 2016 as he helped New England to another championship, rallying to beat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
While Butler is most known for his heroics in Super Bowl XLIX against Seattle, his puzzling benching during Super Bowl LII -- zero defensive snaps -- against the Philadelphia Eagles has been one of the more highly criticized decisions of Bill Belichick's tenure. No straightforward reasoning was ever truly given by either Belichick or Butler regarding his benching in a game where New England would not only fall but allow 538 yards of total offense.
The corner then left the organization that offseason to sign a five-year, $61 million deal with the Titans. Butler would go on to play the next three seasons in Tennessee with his 2020 campaign being the most productive from a statistical standpoint as he totaled 14 pass breakups and four interceptions while holding opposing quarterbacks to an 83.2 passer rating.
Butler was released by the club in March of 2021 and not too long after inked a one-year deal to join the Arizona Cardinals. However, he did not play a down for the club as he decided to retire in late August due to personal reasons. In recent weeks, Butler -- who was officially released by the Cardinals in mid-February -- had been eyeing a comeback and it looks like he'll now get that opportunity with New England.
The Patriots are in desperate need of some starting experience in the secondary, especially after J.C. Jackson signed with the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency. While Butler may not be able to slot in and replicate Jackson's production with New England at this stage of his, he does serve as a veteran who should help cushion the blow.