It was inevitable after Super Bowl LII, but Malcolm Butler‘s tenure in New England is officially over. Butler will sign a five-year, $61 million contract with the Tennessee Titans at the onset of free agency according to NFL media insider Ian Rapoport. Butler has spent the last four seasons on the New England Patriots after going undrafted out of West Alabama.
The #Titans are signing CB Malcolm Butler on a 5-year contract worth more than $61M with more than $30M guaranteed, source said. Wow.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 13, 2018
Report: Malcolm Butler to Sign Five-Year, $61 Million Deal With Tennessee Titans
Nobody really knew Butler’s value going into free agency. After spending most of his rookie season at the bottom of the Patriots depth chart, Butler became an overnight superstar after recording the game-winning interception against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.
Butler built on that interception to be the Patriots top cornerback in 2015 and 2016. The former undrafted free agent showed he was more than a one-play wonder and established himself as one of the better cornerbacks in the league. Butler earned Pro Bowl nods in both seasons and was voted Second-Team All-Pro in 2016. His stellar play was a large factor in shutting down the high-powered Atlanta Falcons offense in 2016.
However, Butler’s value began to fall in 2017. New England gave the largest defensive contract in team history to former Buffalo Bill Stephon Gilmore. He was inconsistent in the regular season and didn’t play up to his previous standards. His stock reached an all-time low after getting benched for Super Bowl LII. Butler didn’t see a snap despite playing over 98 percent of the regular season defensive snaps.
It’s not a surprise to see the former undrafted free agent leave New England for greener pastures. While it wasn’t the end he was hoping for, there’s no doubt that Butler has come a long way since entering the league. Butler famously worked at a Popeye’s fast food restaurant, and it’s safe to say that he’ll be making more now than he was then.
The big question with Butler going forward is what type of player is he? Is he the borderline star from 2015 and 2016, or is he the average and streaky cornerback from 2017? His new team took a gamble on the former, and only time will tell if that was the right bet.