Source: Ex-Pat Butler to join Titans for $61M


Cornerback Malcolm Butler intends to sign with the Tennessee Titans on a five-year, $61 million deal that includes a guarantee of $30 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Butler surprisingly didn’t play a defensive snap in the New England Patriots‘ 41-33 Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles for what coach Bill Belichick described as a coaching decision.

The hero of Super Bowl XLIX with a game-saving interception, Butler spent four memorable years in New England that included notable highs and lows.

An overlooked prospect in 2014 out of Division II West Alabama, he had been invited to New England for a tryout and earned a contract on the offseason 90-man roster almost a month after the draft. He rose to unexpected fame with his Super Bowl interception, and the team showed its faith in him the following season, in 2015, by elevating him to the No. 1 spot on the depth chart to replace departed free-agent Darrelle Revis.

Despite his sudden stardom, Belichick said at one point in 2015 that Butler, “as much as any player that I’ve been around, has really not changed very much from Year 1 to Year 2.”

Butler started every game in 2015 and 2016, earning a Pro Bowl berth in 2015, although his future with the team was uncertain after the 2016 season as he was a restricted free agent. The New Orleans Saints hosted Butler on a visit but never signed him to an offer sheet.

So, Butler returned to the Patriots in 2017, and he had a self-described up-and-down season that culminated with Belichick’s shocking decision not to play him on defense in Super Bowl LII. After the game, in an emotional moment, Butler said the Patriots gave up on him.

Butler’s durability was impressive in his time with the Patriots, as he played 98.8 percent of the defensive snaps in 2015, followed by 96.7 and 97.8 in the next two seasons. Teammates nicknamed him “Strap” because of his ability to closely cover receivers, and also “Scrap” for his scrappy style of play.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Butler turned 28 on March 2. He’ll play for former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel and former Pats’ personnel man Jon Robinson, who are now the Titans’ head coach and general manager, respectively.

This marks the second straight year a Patriots cornerback will leave in free agency to join the Titans. Logan Ryan agreed to a contract with the Titans last offseason.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss contributed to this report.

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