New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Former Patriots cornerback and Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler’s NFL career may be nearing its end.

Now with the Arizona Cardinals after spending the previous three seasons with the Tennessee Titans, a ‘personal situation’ has left the 31-year-old contemplating retirement, according to a report from the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

“[Butler] is going through a personal situation right now, and part of that situation led him to be away from the facility within the last week for a period of time, and he is still trying to work his way through that,” Garafolo said Monday. “Right now, retirement or stepping away from the game is on the table for Malcolm Butler.”

That kind of update certainly seems unrelated to Butler’s on-field capabilities, and it’s certainly not what you’d expect to hear after just 100 NFL games between the Patriots, Titans, and Cardinals. Especially not after a career-best 100 tackles and four interceptions, along with 14 passes defended (Butler’s third-highest single-season total), for the Titans in 2020.

It’s obviously unclear what that situation entails, too, but it has to be pretty serious for Butler to consider walking away or even retiring from football less than five months after signing a one-year deal with the Cards.

Butler, of course, was the man who helped seal the deal on the Patriots’ Super Bowl XLIX win over the Seahawks with his goal-line interception. And he was also the center of the drama surrounding the team’s Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles just three years later, with Butler benched in a game that saw the Patriots downright unable to stop Philly.

It’s been three and a half years since that infamous benching and it’s still discussed with this air of mystery. It would be Butler’s final moment as a Patriot, too, as he signed a deal with the Titans that offseason.

But with an uncertain playing future in front of him, it may also go down as the last significant moment of Butler’s career.

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