Darius Butler Released After Difficult Year-Long Stretch With Patriots


Cornerback Darius Butler developed some nice momentum during his rookie season in 2009, and he got off to a sizzling start to camp during the 2010 offseason. After that, for whatever reason, it just stopped clicking for the Patriots' second-round draft pick.

Butler was released Tuesday, marking the third high-profile cut from the team's secondary in the last week, presumably to make room for tight end Dan Gronkowski.

Butler cooled off a bit in the team's 2010 training camp, and he struggled at the start of the regular season, most notably against the Jets and wide receiver Braylon Edwards in Week 2. The UConn product lost his starting job to Kyle Arrington in Week 3 and never regained it.

Butler was expected to contribute in sub packages this season. The Patriots have three proven starters with Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden and Arrington, and they used a second-round pick on Ras-I Dowling. New England also claimed cornerback Antwaun Molden off waivers last week, and the team is apparently high on his abilities.

Butler's kryptonite came in the form of bigger, more physical wide receivers, so the Patriots worked him back into the rotation at the end of the 2010 season by placing him against smaller, shiftier guys in the slot. Butler salvaged his game to an extent, and the hope for the Patriots was that he'd be able to collect himself and regain some confidence.

At best, Butler was the fourth cornerback on the depth chart, but once the Patriots saw Dowling return to health last week, Butler became expendable.

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