After a good season, the New England Patriots have a few big free agents. Recently, Malcolm Butler was named an immediate impact free agent by Pro Football Focus.
One of the strangest stories for the New England Patriots this season was the Malcolm Butler situation in the Super Bowl. Despite being a starter and key member of the defense all season, Butler was benched during the Super Bowl.
The relationship between Butler and the Patriots has certainly been strained going back to the last offseason. Many expected that the Patriots would be giving Butler a long-term deal after a great season and a Super Bowl win. However, the Patriots elected to instead hand out a big contract to Stephon Gilmore.
Since Butler was given a first-round tender as a restricted free agent, there was never any real chance of a team being willing to give him a long-term deal, and then also give the Patriots a first-round pick. There were some rumors about a possible deal with the New Orleans Saints, but nothing ended up happening with that.
Compared to last season, Butler didn’t perform as well for the Patriots in 2017. However, he did still have a decent season, but the big plays did hurt New England at times. Recently, Pro Football Focus named Butler as one of the Top 10 immediate impact free agents for this coming offseason. Here’s what they had to say about him.
"Butler’s benching for the Super Bowl was a huge story, and between that and the rest of his play this year, Butler will want to hit 2018 hard and get his career back on track. The season before, Butler had made PFF’s second-team All-Pro with an overall grade of 88.1, thanks in part to notching four interceptions and 12 pass breakups. He has always had a tendency to give up a few big plays, with four touchdowns surrendered that season and six this year, but he has legitimate coverage skills and the talent to make game-defining plays."
Even though he wasn’t as sharp as in 2016, Butler did still have a good overall season in New England. After what happened in the Super Bowl, Butler will certainly be focused on proving what he can do on the field.
Due to what happened, Butler obviously won’t be coming back to the Patriots, as that seems as likely as pigs flying at this point. However, Butler should have plenty of suitors as one of the top cornerbacks in free agency this offseason.