Arizona Cardinals fans and the rest of the league received news on August 30 that came absolutely out of nowhere.
“He is going through a personal situation right now and part of that situation led him to be away of the facilities within the last week,” Garafolo said on NFL Total Access on Monday, August 30. “He is still trying to work his way through that and that right now, retirement or stepping away from the game is on the table for Malcolm Butler.”
On August 31, the Cardinals placed Butler on the reserve/retired list. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated revealed some news rumblings in his weekly mailbag on September 1 about Butler’s usage in the preseason and training camp which could’ve led to his retirement.
There were rumblings before this that Malcolm Butler couldn’t run anymore, and concern internally that his lost step would get magnified gradually, as the normal wear-and-tear of the season set in.
On September 9, Cardinals’ third-year defensive coordinator Vance Joseph gave an update on Butler.
“He was a big part of what we were doing defensively,” Joseph said in which he talked to Butler last week. “He’s taking care of some personal stuff. That’s important. Obviously, football is a big part of his life but life is more important than football.”
According to Cardinals reporter Darren Urban, Joseph was surprised by his sudden retirement and that Butler’s decision had nothing to do with football. He also isn’t ruling out Butler returning to the game, which is big news.
It felt a little unfair that people who have no idea what was going on to make preconceived notions on the situation. Garafolo first said it was a personal situation for Butler, and that’s what it appears to be. Of course, things can change and maybe Butler did have a gripe with Arizona, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at this point.
There were reports that Butler’s contract was fully guaranteed, but that was false.
Joseph’ Defends Corners
The Cardinals are going into their season with their three starting corners set. Robert Alford, Byron Murphy and rookie Marco Wilson will battle it out against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Joseph is confident in the trio.
“We have three starters like most teams have,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. “You can figure those out. That’s easy.”
They’re going to go with the nickel defense. Wilson’s going to have a tough road ahead of him with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones to potential cover.
“It can be anybody on there on the corner, you have to have a plan to contain those guys,” Joseph said. “Not just for Marco, but all our corners. No one can cover those guys one-on-one for an entire game.”
Alford hasn’t played since 2018 and Byron Murphy is heading into his third year. Butler was supposed to start for the team, but Murphy has to step up now. In just days away from the regular season, Steve Keim and company must feel confident to let this play out.
Practice Squad Protections
In case you missed it on September 8, the Cardinals protected three players. They can elect to protect up to four players on the practice squad from being signed by another team to their active roster. Corners Rasul Douglas, Antonio Hamilton and linebacker Kylie Fritts were protected on the practice squad.
A former third-round pick out of West Virginia, Rasul Douglas lasted just one week with the Houston Texans. He was a part of the Texans’ re-configuring of their cornerbacks’ group this season. He started 11 games last season for the Carolina Panthers. Pro Football Focus ranked Douglas highly when Douglas was against tough competition. He was the third-highest graded CB against receivers with a grade above 80.
Hamilton played in the Super Bowl with the Chiefs in 2020 and signed with the Buccaneers, the team he lost to. He was on the field for 100 plus snaps in the preseason but was cut on August 30. This is a team where he could stick with the lack of depth.