Malcolm Butler could play in 2022, after all. The Patriots released the veteran IR cornerback with an injury settlement, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).
After a pre-season opener where he had an extended look alongside backups, Butler was out of training before later landing on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. This trade meant that Butler would not be eligible to play for the Patriots during the 2022 campaign, although his two-year contract left the door open for a return in 2023. Instead, the two parties decided to move on. something else, which means the cornerback can now join another team and potentially play this coming season.
This officially ends Butler’s second stint in New England. His first stint saw him evolve from UDFA to Super Bowl hero following his game-winning interception in Super Bowl XLIX. Butler ended up spending four seasons in New England, earning a Pro Bowl nod and two Super Bowl rings (plus a major SB loss where he was relegated to a special teams snap). He signed a five-year, $61 million deal with the Titans in 2018, and he spent three seasons on that deal before getting his walking papers after the 2020 season.
He met the Cardinals ahead of the 2021 campaign, but just before the start of the regular season, he announced he was retiring from the NFL for personal reasons. Despite his absence, the Patriots clearly believed he could still be productive when they offered him a two-year contract. Assuming Butler wants to stay in the league, a team in need of a cornerback will surely come knocking sooner rather than later.