Sunday won’t be just another matchup for Malcolm Butler.
The veteran cornerback will be going up against his former team when the Tennessee Titans battle the New England Patriots at Nissan Stadium in Week 10. Butler experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows in New England, as his stint with the Patriots was bookended by a heroic interception in Super Bowl XLIX and a benching in Super Bowl LII.
New England let Butler walk in free agency this past season, and its decision has looked like a sound one thus far. The 28-year-old has struggled mightily thus far with the Titans, and Peter King believes Butler might just be getting exposed as the player he really is.
“I think towards the end of last year — this is the one thing no one wanted to hear at the end of last year, but Bill Belichick didn’t take him out of the lineup because of any vengeance or because he was trying to really insult Malcolm Butler,” King said Thursday on “Dale & Keefe,” as transcribed by WEEI. “I think he did this because he watched in practice and in some games in the last few months of the season and Malcolm Butler was killing them out there. I always heard last year that during Super Bowl week, he did not have a great week of practice and one day a practice squad receiver beat him badly on a play. I don’t know how much that had to do with it, but I just think that Belichick totally lost faith in him. That is continuing now to this year.
“He got beat on a really good move by Amari Cooper in the first half of that game (Monday night), but he also got beat on a play that he got embarrassed in Dallas. I hate to say this, maybe he’s just not that good. Maybe he had his moment or six of great glory in a great scheme. Maybe there’s a reason he wasn’t drafted and didn’t get invited to the combine and things like that. Again, I know that sounds odd because he did have some really, really good moments. In his career, he’s had some pretty big highs, a gigantic high in the Super Bowl, but it’s also had quite a few (lows).”
Even if Butler truly is just an average cornerback, his strong stretch in New England speaks for itself. The Patriots forever will be indebted to Butler, who surely has an appreciation for the franchise that gave him a shot as an undrafted free agent.
And if Butler’s struggles in Tennessee are nothing more than a slump, there would be no better time to break out of it than against the team he used to suit up for.