Patriots Release Former Super Bowl Hero

Malcolm Butler

The New England Patriots are a forever-changing bunch these days.

Patriots Nation hopes that the finished product in 2022 is better than what was displayed in the preseason finale on Friday night in Sin City against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Part of the most recent changes is the recent decision to part ways with former Super Bowl hero and, at one time, supposed starting cornerback Malcolm Butler. New England announced it was releasing Butler via an injury settlement this week.

Butler, 32, had retired following the end of the 2020 season.

He sat out the 2021 campaign and had plans to return to football this season, and he signed back with the Patriots this offseason. With New England losing J.C. Jackson to the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency, Butler seemed the logical choice to replace him, though there were concerns about whether the latter could still perform at a CB-1 level.

Butler struggled some during training camp, and he didn’t pop during the first preseason game. This caused speculation as to whether the Patriots would release him even before the injury landed him on injured reserve, ended his 2022 campaign before it started, and ultimately led to his release.

The aforementioned events only wrapped up what has to be defined as a failed comeback attempt.


The Patriots Are Still in a Good Place With Cornerback Depth

Even with Butler out of the picture, the Patriots still have enough healthy and capable bodies at cornerback heading into the 2022 season. Bill Belichick is without a player who has earned the reputation as a shutdown corner, but the depth at the position should keep it from being a major weakness.

According to Ourlads, here is how the Patriots’ cornerback depth looks after Butler’s release.

LCB

  • Johnathon Jones
  • Terrance Mitchell
  • Shaun Wade

RCB

  • Jalen Mills
  • Jack Jones
  • Justin Bethel

NCB

  • Myles Bryant
  • Marcus Jones

Bethel figures to be primarily a special-teams contributor, but with seven capable and healthy options at corner, the Patriots should be OK at the position. On a further positive note, the rookie Joneses have shown some flashes during training camp and preseason.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise if one or both are getting starting reps at some point during the upcoming regular season.


Jack Jones Called the Lone Bright Spot in Patriots’ Loss in Preseason Finale

Much was made about the Patriots’ poor performance in losing to the Raiders on Friday. Most critics hammered the team, calling them unrecognizable compared to past teams and New England performances.

That said, rookie corner Jack Jones continued to impress despite the losing effort from the Patriots as a whole.

Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Tame Jr. gushed over Jones’ play against the Raiders.

“Following an impressive start to training camp, the 2022 fourth-round draft pick [Jones] has received a lot of quality reps over the last two weeks of joint practices,” Tame wrote. The one thing that has been constant throughout the Patriots’ training camp is the fluid allocation of reps to those who have earned more responsibility. By many accounts, Jones is one of the players who has earned it.

“He [Jones] has shown quickness and competitiveness, as well as the ability to stick with NFL receivers,” Tame continued. “Of course, there’s some risk to Jones’ game, but he has excellent route recognition and is a ball-hawk. He seems to read the routes well to get into a good position to make a play. At times, it felt like Jones was everywhere. He made a tremendous play in the third quarter when he clobbered the running back in the flat to force a fumble.”

If Jones can ultimately emerge as the type of shutdown corner Jackson was growing to be and that the Patriots wished Butler could have still been, they should feel exponentially better about their 2022 draft class.

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