Former Patriot, Super Bowl Champion Mentioned in Potential Return

Getty Adam Butler

Former New England Patriots defensive tackle Adam Butler is a free agent again.

Last week, Butler, who won a Super Bowl ring in 2018 in New England, was released by the Patriots AFC rivals, the Miami Dolphins.


Why Did the Miami Dolphins Release Adam Butler?

Butler failed a physical as he continues to try to battle back from a shoulder issue that seemingly impacted his play in 2021 and led to him being released by the Dolphins.

Butler wasn’t able to get healthy enough to practice during training camp. Rather than placing him on the Physically Unable to Perform list to protect his spot on the team (as the Patriots did with James White and a few other veterans), Miami elected to release Butler.

In 2021, Butler played in all 17 games for the Dolphins. He made one start, had 2 sacks, batted down three passes, and had 17 tackles and 5 quarterback hits. Despite playing in more games in 2021 than he did in 2019 and 2020 with the Patriots, Butler wasn’t as productive with the Dolphins.

In New England, Butler averaged 5 sacks per season from 2019-20. He also had 50 tackles and 16 quarterback hits. Beyond the fact that the Patriots have a history of bringing players back to New England for second and third stints, Butler would seemingly be a candidate considering his best days on the field came while he was a member of the Patriots.


Would the Patriots Consider Bringing Adam Butler Back?

Unfortunately, the early word on a return isn’t positive. Butler’s inability to get healthy enough to practice suggests he still needs time to heal and recover. The Patriots aren’t going to seriously consider bringing in a player who isn’t even ready to practice.

According to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss, one source said the team hadn’t discussed bringing Butler back at this time. Reiss named rookie DT LaBryan Ray as one player currently on the roster who gives the team a reason to believe they have sufficient depth at defensive tackle.

Reiss says Ray “has caught the eye as a Butler-type possibility — an undrafted free agent making a charge for a roster spot due to his pass-rushing skills.” That was the path Butler took to prominence, and it helped create the opportunity for him to sign a two-year, $7.5 million deal in Miami last year.

However, the contract had an out this year with $0 dead money. The Dolphins took that out and saved themselves $4.15 million with the decision to cut Butler loose.

While things don’t look positive for a Butler return now, don’t rule him out as a possibility in the future. If Butler can get healthy over the next few months and the Patriots need the defensive line, you can almost bet the 28-year-old’s name will come up–at least from a speculative standpoint.

Looking longer term, Butler could be an option after the season if he sits 2022 out to get healthy. New England loves signing veterans to short-term prove-it deals. If Butler has to sit the 2022 season out, that’s the kind of contract he’s likely to be offered, and it would make sense for him to restart his career with the franchise that originally signed him as an undrafted free agent.

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