The Arizona Cardinals appear to have found their replacement for Patrick Peterson, and he just so happens to have quite the history when it comes to performing in the team’s home stadium.
On Thursday, the Cardinals announced that they have agreed to a contract with veteran cornerback Malcolm Butler. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the 31-year-old receives a one-year deal with the possibility to earn a max of $6 million in 2021.
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Cards Shade Seahawks on Twitter
Butler of course made a name for himself underneath the bright lights of State Farm Stadium (formerly known as University of Phoenix Stadium) back in Super Bowl XLIX. A relatively unknown undrafted free agent for the New England Patriots at the time, Butler become one of the more unlikely of Super Bowl heroes.
With 20 seconds remaining in the game, and the Seattle Seahawks looking destined to punch the ball into the endzone, the cornerback jumped in front of a Russell Wilson pass which was intended for receiver Ricardo Lockette, snagging his first career interception, clinching a Patriots victory and making one of the most unforgettable plays in NFL history.
Yet, just in case the play happened to slip the memory of the Seahawks, the Cardinals’ Twitter page made sure to send a friendly reminder to their NFC West foes in this sly tweet following the Butler signing:
The Seahawks took the blow on the chin and came back firing, reminding Arizona of their 73-year NFL championship drought, the longest active streak in all the NFL.
Butler Has Big Shoes to Fill in Arizona
All jokes aside, the Butler signing is a solid move for a team that is likely to be down each of their two starting cornerbacks from a season ago. The aforementioned Patrick Peterson, a franchise legend, took his talents to Minnesota earlier in the free agency process. The team’s No. 2 corner from 2020, Dre Kirkpatrick, has been vocal about his desire for a sizeable payday — one that his on-field performance likely doesn’t warrant.
Butler’s release from the Titans had much more to do with financial implications than it did on-field play, as he was scheduled to have a $14.2 million cap number for this coming season.
Serving as Tennessee’s top cornerback last year, the West Alabama product collected a career-high 100 tackles and tied his personal-best in interceptions with four. Furthermore, he added 14 passes defended and earned an impressive 74.5 overall Pro Football Focus grade, 14th-best amongst qualifying cornerbacks.
Over his seven-year career, Butler has appeared in 100 regular-season games (84 starts), amassing 406 tackles, 17 interceptions, 82 passes defended, five forced fumbles, three sacks and two defensive touchdowns.
As of now, you can likely pencil in Butler as the team’s No. 1 cornerback heading into 2021. Beyond Butler, there’s a chance veteran Robert Alford — who has missed the entirety of the past two seasons due to injury — locks down the starting gig opposite him. With that said, expect Arizona to bring in some competition at the position, either through the remaining free-agency pool or during April’s upcoming NFL Draft.