Malcolm Butler and the New England Patriots had their differences, but at the end of the day, Butler’s decision to sign elsewhere came down to the money.
If you’ll recall, the Patriots reportedly tried to sign Butler to a contract extension last offseason but couldn’t reach an agreement with the cornerback in restricted free agency, instead bringing him back on a one-year tender worth $3.91 million. On Wednesday, ESPN’s Field Yates revealed the “final offer” New England made to Butler during those negotiations, and it’s no small chunk of change.
As Yates notes, the Patriots offered Butler a deal worth $11 million annually with $25.5 million guaranteed. Is that less than the $12.2 million per year and $30 million in guaranteed money he’ll receive from the Tennessee Titans? Yes. Is it that much less? No.
Many assumed Butler and the Pats were far apart in contract talks, but Yates’ report suggests otherwise; players have left much more than $1.2 million per year on the table to stay with their current employer, especially a Super Bowl contender like New England. So, Butler landing in Tennessee suggests what many have speculated: He was ready for a change of scenery.
That theory certainly makes sense. The 28-year-old endured his most trying season as a Patriot in 2017, one that ended in embarrassment and controversy after he was benched in Super Bowl LII. And while he said all the right things publicly, several reports intimated he’d be perfectly happy finding a new team.
We obviously don’t know how Butler’s negotiations with New England went last season. But $11 million per year is a hefty offer — especially from the notoriously stingy Bill Belichick — and the fact that Butler turned it down might tell you all you need to know about why he’ll play for the Titans in 2018.