Is it crazy to say everything for the New England Patriots has gone downhill since they were steamrolled by the Bills in the playoffs?
Think about it. Front office exec Dave Ziegler and longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels teamed up with the Raiders. To add insult to injury, McDaniels brought three of Bill Belichick’s most trusted assistants with him to Las Vegas.
Since then, Belichick and the Patriots have sat idly by while several AFC rivals have worked around the clock to bolster their respective rosters. The worst part of it all is that Buffalo has arguably been the most aggressive team.
On Wednesday, another AFC East rival — the Dolphins — made a statement move by trading for all-world wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who became available after extension negotiations with the Chiefs went nowhere.
This ratcheted up the pressure on New England to get some business done and they unfortunately followed the Hill blockbuster in underwhelming fashion by signing former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler to a two-year deal.
Former Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler is back with the Patriots.
For anybody keeping track, the Patriots let JC Jackson walk for nothing and have “replaced” the shutdown corner with a lifetime backup in Terrance Mitchell and the well-traveled Butler, who hasn’t played a snap since 2020.
After leaving New England in somewhat unceremonious fashion during the 2017 offseason, Butler signed with Tennessee, where he spent three seasons. The former Pro Bowler inked a one-year deal with the Cardinals as a free agent last offseason, but unexpectedly retired right before the season started.
Butler spent the year on the reserve/retired list and Cardinals DC Vance Joseph attributed the corner’s retirement to “personal” matters.
Whatever forced Butler to step away from the game, he’s back in New England after working out with the Raiders and Texans, each of whom have Patriots ties with McDaniels/Ziegler and Nick Caserio.
We never would have guessed Butler would return to the Patriots given how his final game with the franchise unfolded. After previously playing hero with a goal-line interception against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, Butler didn’t play a single snap in New England’s 41-33 loss to the Eagles in Super Bowl LI.
As we all remember, the Pats defense had no answers for Nick Foles, who carved up Belichick’s unit to the tune of 373 passing yards and three touchdown while Butler was left on the bench after he got into an argument with then-defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, according to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham.
It’s unclear what the 32-year-old Butler has left in the tank, but the Patriots’ underwhelming cornerback room suggests he could be in line for a big role.
While it’s nice to see Butler back where he belongs, this is about as bland of a signing New England could make in the wake of Hill landing in Miami. Given how this offseason has unfolded so far, though, is anyone surprised?