New England Patriots

After visiting the Patriots earlier this week, cornerback Malcolm Butler has apparently decided to stick around. The former Patriots cornerback is returning to the team as a free agent. The news was first reported by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, who described the reunion as ‘improbable.’

Butler’s new contract is for two years and worth up to $9 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The deal is likely incentive-heavy, similar to the one Trent Brown signed with the team earlier this week.

Butler, who turned 32 earlier this month, spent training camp with the Arizona Cardinals last season but decided to retire in late August. He ended up sitting out the season. Before that, he played three years in Tennessee where he had nine interceptions and 35 pass deflections in 41 games.

Before that, Butler began his career with the Patriots, who signed him as a UDFA in 2014. His tenure in New England was a roller coaster – he made the roster out of camp as a rookie and slowly worked his way into the cornerback rotation that included Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Butler was called on in the second half of Super Bowl XLIX as the Patriots made defensive adjustments, and ended up making the game-saving interception on the goal line in the final seconds.

With the departure of both Revis and Browner the next year, Butler moved into a starting role and was named to his first Pro Bowl. He followed that up with an All-Pro season in 2016. The Patriots then added Stephon Gilmore in the 2017 offseason, giving them an elite cornerback tandem once again. That team reached Super Bowl LII, but Butler was benched for unknown reasons as the team went on to lose an offensive shootout.

Now back in New England, Butler may be asked to take on a key role once again. The team’s cornerback depth is thin, especially on the boundary. Butler joins a group of outside corners consisting of Jalen Mills, Joejuan Williams, Justin Bethel, and the newly-signed Terrance Mitchell, with Jonathan Jones, Myles Bryant, and Shaun Wade in  the slot. Of course, the team can still add to the position in free agency and in next month’s NFL Draft.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.