With Malcolm Butler becoming a free agent this March, the New York Jets should add a player to their secondary looking for revenge on the Patriots.
One of the biggest storylines during last Sunday’s Super Bowl was about the New England Patriots benching one of their best defenders, cornerback Malcolm Butler, in their 41-33 loss to the Eagles. It is unclear as to why Butler was left on the bench, but he gave his side of the story in a social media post on Tuesday.
— Malcolm CB Butler (@Mac_BZ) February 6, 2018
It is a definite that Butler won’t be wearing a Patriots uniform next year and it is an opportunity for the New York Jets to make a big splash and sign him in free agency. While most fans want the Jets to give the big money to quarterback Kirk Cousins, the defense should still be a priority for them this spring.
This year, the Jets gave up 234.3 passing yards per game, which was the 12th-most in the NFL. Part of the reason for allowing that much yardage to the opposing quarterback is they didn’t get after the quarterback that often (ranked 28th in the league in sacks).
While Butler can’t help the pass rush, he’s a player that can cover opposing wide receivers and allow the front seven more time to go after the quarterback. One thing you will see about Butler is that he’s competitive on every down and while he lacks size against big receivers (5-foot-11), that doesn’t stop him from giving maximum effort every play.
Over the last three seasons, he has had eight interceptions, including four of them in 2016. Of course, everyone will remember his most notable interception in Super Bowl 49 when he picked off Russell Wilson in the end zone to seal the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl title.
When you watch Butler play, he always has a chip on his shoulder dating back to being an undrafted free agent out of West Alabama. That chip is only enhanced after what happened in the Super Bowl. He has confidence in himself and you have to think a part of him would love to stick it to the Patriots, which is the kind of player the Jets fan should want on their team.
With Morris Claiborne being a free agent, the Jets can use a number one cornerback in 2018. Since Butler is only 27 years old, he has the chance to help form a formidable trio in the secondary with second-year safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. When you face Tom Brady twice a year, any talent in the secondary can help.
Butler did not have his best year in 2017, but you have to wonder if not getting the contract that Stephon Gilmore got from New England was on his mind the entire year. If general manager Mike Maccagnan can sign him to a reasonable contract, Butler might play loose knowing he has that long-term security and that a team wants him as a core piece of their defense.
Yes, the Jets have other needs to address this offseason besides quarterback. But, if you put Butler with a defensive minded coach in Todd Bowles, he can help take the defense to another level. If they have to play a rookie quarterback in 2018, having an elite defense can help that player immensely. Signing Butler would be the first step in improving the defense.
For a young team, the Jets need to surround themselves with players that have experience in big games and can help teach the younger players. Butler can do that and add to the talent on defense. With $79 million in projected cap space (courtesy of Spotrac), they have money to make big moves and Butler should be one of them.