BOSTON (CBS) — As expected, Malcolm Butler has found a new home.
The free agent cornerback is no longer a Patriot, signing a 5-year contract with the Tennessee Titans, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Sources say the deal will be worth more than $61M with more than $30M guaranteed.
Thus ends one of the most interesting careers with the New England Patriots. Before the 2017 season, Butler was best known for making one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history. By seasons end, he was known for not playing a single defensive snap in New England’s Super Bowl LII loss, a curious decision by Bill Belichick that still has Patriots fans searching for answers.
Butler came to New England as an undrafted free agent in 2014, and after playing sparingly in the regular season, came up with the biggest play in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks. The corner picked off Russell Wilson’s second-down pass from the 1-yard line with just 20 seconds left, securing the 24-20 victory for the Patriots.
He became the team’s top corner the next season and did not disappoint, playing 90 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps while locking down the opposition’s top receivers. He had 15 passes defended and two interceptions that season, earning the only Pro Bowl nod of his career.
Butler had another strong season in 2016, but did not receive a contract extension from the team and instead became a restricted free agent. He was given a first-round tender from the team worth $3.9 million and was rumored to be in trade conversations between the Patriots and New Orleans Saints. That offseason, the Patriots signed corner Stephon Gilmore to a five-year, $65 million contract.
Butler struggled in coverage at times in 2017, but still finished the year with 60 tackles, 12 passes defensed, and a pair of interceptions in 15 regular season games for the Patriots. He continued to line up as New England’s No. 2 corner in the AFC Divisional Round and AFC Championship, but did not play a single defensive snap in their Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, which head coach Bill Belichick said was a “football decision.”
Now, Butler has finally cashed in on the open market.
As for the Patriots, they’ll head into the 2018 season with Gilmore and Eric Rowe as their top two corners.