Malcolm Butler, the hero of NFL‘s Super Bowl 49, who miraculously deflected Russell Wilson‘s goal-line pass to prevent the Seattle Seahawks from taking the lead over the New England Patriots, is coming out of retirement.
The most shocking play in NFL history: Brandon Browner and Malcolm Butler smoking out Seattle’s goal line slant to win #SuperBowl XLIX. Look at Browner’s jam and Butler’s attacking pick. GIVE IT TO MARSHAWN!pic.twitter.com/GD3dTX84TD
— Jack M Silverstein (@readjack) February 13, 2022
Butler, who will be 32 in March, signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals in March 2021, but on August 31, he chose to retire and was placed on the reserved/retired list.
From NFL Now: Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler is planning a comeback. pic.twitter.com/vz9qUrmFQD
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 18, 2022
This week, the Cardinals officially released him from the reserve/retired list, and his comeback is in the works.
Many teams will be shopping around for cornerback help in the offseason.
They will look to the draft and free agency to fill their rosters.
Here are three potential teams who may want Butler’s veteran experience on their rosters.
1. San Francisco 49ers
Michigan alumnus Ambry Thomas was the rookie cornerback who the 49ers leaned on in 2021.
He grew into the role and played well, but adding a veteran like Butler into the mix could be good for mentoring Thomas and improving the 49ers’ depth chart at the position.
Biggest question mark going into the season & the reason the 49ers are on the ropes was & has been the cornerbacks.
— Box Kev (@BoxKev) January 31, 2022
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is certainly aware of Butler’s skills.
Butler was on the winning Patriots team that overtook the Atlanta Falcons after the Falcons built a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl 51.
Shanahan was the offensive coordinator and play-caller for the Falcons in that game.
2. Atlanta Falcons
Speaking of the Atlanta Falcons, they are a team who have been in a bizarre haze since that catastrophic Super Bowl 51 meltdown in 2017.
They have a veteran quarterback in Matt Ryan who at 36 needs to win now.
Practically every position area needs new talent added to it including cornerback.
I think the Atlanta Falcons are going to put some new weapons around Matt Ryan and he'll retire as a Falcon. I also think their defense is going to take a step forward. The major question is who's going to replace Ryan when he's finished.
— Native Brethren #9 (@NauticaNinja) January 25, 2022
The Falcons defense was tied for third-worst in the NFL in 2021 with the Los Angeles Chargers in points allowed, averaging 27 points allowed per game.
They gave up 459 points during the 17 game season, and only the New York Jets and Detroit Lions had worse statistics in this area.
Butler is not the only answer to Atlanta’s woes, but assuming he is healthy and fit, he could inject some valuable experience into this roster immediately.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs in recent years have placed a lower priority on high-profile cornerback players.
They have been successful by spending their free agent and draft focus on defensive and offensive line players.
Drafting a cornerback is a possibility; however, picking up Butler and placing him on an established team that is riding a three-year streak of appearing in the AFC Championship game seems like it is an idea worth considering.
Kansas City Chiefs cornerbacks are not very good
— joey pantz (@UglyGuyDrew) January 2, 2022
Butler is still young by football standards.
He stepped away from the game in 2021 for personal reasons.
His plan to return to the NFL should precipitate a lot of conversations among NFL front offices on which situation suits him the best.
Money and salary cap issues will be other considerations.
Malcolm Butler’s return will be a development that is interesting to follow as the NFL offseason begins in earnest in the coming weeks.