Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (4) during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
As of 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the Patriots had to trim their roster from 87 players to 85. To open one of those spots, the team made a surprise move placing cornerback Malcolm Butler on injured reserve.
Butler last took the field in the Patriots’ preseason opener on Thursday. He hadn’t practiced in the two sessions since. The nature of his injury is unknown.
Because the team placed Butler on IR before the start of the regular season, he is not eligible to return this year. That return designation only applies to players who make the initial 53-man roster or join the team after cut downs.
After announcing his retirement at the end of training camp last year, Butler came out of retirement and re-signed with the Patriots in March. The 32-year-old is technically on a two-year deal, so if he remains on IR he could still return next season.
This is Butler’s second stint in New England. He signed with the team as a UDFA in 2014, and went on to play four seasons with the Patriots including an All-Pro season in 2016. In Super Bowl XLIX, he made the game-sealing interception of Russell Wilson at the goal line.
Prior to being placed on IR, Butler had been competing for a rotational boundary cornerback spot behind Jalen Mills and Terrance Mitchell. Butler’s absence could open the door for Shaun Wade, who has continued to play better in camp over the last week. It could also open up more changes for Myles Bryant in the slot, with starting slot cornerback Jonathan Jones playing more on the boundary in recent practices.
Butler isn’t the only cornerback the Patriots placed on IR on Tuesday. Joejuan Williams was also added to the injured reserve, with a report Tuesday morning he had suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Williams, a 2019 second-round pick, is in the final year of his rookie contract.
While those two moves got the Patriots down to the 85 player limit, the team opened up an additional spot by waiving UDFA rookie punter Jake Julien. Julien was considered a long shot to make the team behind returning starter Jake Bailey. The Patriots signed Bailey to an extension earlier in camp.
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 @RealAlexBarthor via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.