Malcolm Butler is falling apart.
The cornerback has not lived up to his five-year, $61.3 million paycheck with $24 million guaranteed. In fact, he’s making the Tennessee Titans look foolish.
In his first season with Tennessee, Butler has been the nearest defender in coverage on six touchdowns, second-most in the NFL, according to Next Gen Stats. Butler was in coverage for a pair of touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.
Butler has the third-most tackles on the team, which isn’t a good thing. Quarterbacks are targeting Butler with success, which means the receivers are catching the ball on him and Butler is forced to make the tackle. Then again, he’s also not making the tackle, like when Jordan Matthews burnt Butler for a 56-yard touchdown.
Pro Football Focus, the online scouting service, ranks Butler as the 82nd cornerback in the NFL. With just one interception on the season, he’s supposed to be the Titans’ No. 1 option. Butler addressed his struggles on Oct. 17 in an interview with Titans.com.
"“I think sometimes my problem is trying to get the ball, you gamble and do things you shouldn’t, just need to get back to the basics. I need to get back to my doggish ways. I’m going to get back to being real nasty, man,” he said. “I’m going to play my game and do more to help my team out. I am just going to be me.”"
When Butler joined the Titans, he was entrenched in drama after Bill Belichick benched Butler in Super Bowl LII. The Patriots lost the contest to the Philadelphia Eagles, 41-33, with Nick Foles throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns. Foles’ success led to skepticism around Belichick’s decision to keep Butler off the field. Because the decision seemed to come out of nowhere, many wondered if Butler had broken a team rule. If Butler was involved in any wrongdoing, it never came to light. As far as the public knows, Butler’s benching was a football decision — and he had indeed been having his worst season of his career in 2017 (until this season).
Maybe Belichick knew what he was doing after all.