Patriots fans remember Butler’s heroic efforts in Super Bowl XLIX and it is nice to have someone familiar stepping into the secondary. While familiarity is a potential plus and Butler isn’t exactly ancient at 32 years old, he is likely passed his prime, and that likely has a lot to do with his signing landing on a pretty dubious list.
Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay called the Butler signing the Patriots’ worst of the offseason.
Why BR Lists Butler’s Signing as the Patriots’ Worst
“After losing the star corner [JC Jackson] on the open market, the Patriots hope to replace some of J.C. Jackson’s production with Malcolm Butler,” Kay wrote. “Butler is a familiar face who made his name as an undrafted free agent with the organization and secured a Super Bowl XLIX victory for it with his unbelievable interception in the waning moments.”
Kay clearly acknowledges Butler’s appeal to New England, and he also pointed out his 17 interceptions over the course of his career. Still, age and the money invested in his contract are what Kay points to as troubling details.
“Still, Butler turned 32 earlier in March and missed a significant amount of time in 2019 with a wrist fracture,” Kay explains. “He could make up to $9 million over the next two years, although it will be difficult for him to live up to that deal. The Patriots may like his familiarity with their defense, but Butler will be hard-pressed to keep up with younger options as he competes for a job this offseason while trying to shake off the rust.”
Any time a player comes out of retirement, even if he’s only been gone for a year, there will be some concerns about rust, desire and motor. However, Butler is a gamer and while his exit from New England wasn’t the prettiest, there would seemingly be some benefit to him returning to a system where he had his best moments as pro.
Still, could New England be asking too much of Butler? They are asking him to step in and become a difference maker at the cornerback position in a division that now has Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Elijah Moore? It seems very likely the Patriots might wind up with a rookie starting on the other side of the field, which could put even more pressure on Butler. Is more help on the way?
The most high-profile portion of the offseason may be over, but are the Patriots done adding pieces–besides the NFL Draft?
Are the Patriots Done Adding Players in Free Agency?
A veteran cornerback is obviously an important potential piece to add, but New England has needs at other spots. The Patriots have only added one wide receiver, and that is RB/WR hybrid Ty Montgomery.
He isn’t even a lock to make the team, so it isn’t a stretch to say the Patriots have done very little to give second-year quarterback Mac Jones the weapons he needs to take New England’s offense to the next level.
The Patriots have also lost their offensive coordinator and they appear to have a potentially confusing set of assistants prepared to run their offense this season. The Patriots did add Jabrill Peppers on an intriguing prove-it deal, but as it stands, New England needs to pull off one or two surprising acquisitions while killing it at the draft to make this a fruitful offseason.
Unless we see some surprises, it seems as if New England and the New York Jets might be battling to stay out of the AFC East cellar. When was the last time that was a realistic projection for an NFL season?
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