In an off-season that's already seen its fair share of shocking transactions, IMO this takes the cake given the history. Malcolm Butler isn't the first, and he surely won't be the last high-profile New England Patriot to leave the franchise only to return later in his career, but apart from Tom Brady coming back for this season, I can't think of a more surprising return to Foxboro than this.
Malcolm Butler's time in New England basically comes down to how it (effectively) stared, his performance in Super Bowl XLIX, highlighted by perhaps the most famous play in NFL history. And how it ended; his head-scratching one special team snap showing in Super Bowl LII (a game where the Patriots' secondary got TORCHED by Nick fucking Foles).
Now with the loss of JC Jackson (and Stephon Gilmore for pennies), the Patriots secondary needed some serious help. Although Malcolm sat out the 2021 season, he was rather productive in 2020 and is obvi familiar with how the Patriots do things.
But rarely are my blogs about the actual x's and o's on the gridiron. Idk how tf the Patriots are gonna cover Tyreek Hill twice a year, but that's for another day. This is about the shock of Malcolm Butler returning to the Patriots after his questionable (and that's putting it super lightly) benching that cost the Patriots a championship.
Malcolm Butler was fucking retired and had probably the most unceremonious end to his Patriot career (outside of AH85/81) in the 60+ year history of this organization. Still, four years later, there hasn't been much information about WHY Malcolm got benched, and who knows if we'll ever know. There are rumors he had a big blowup with Matt Patricia in practice leading up to SB52, which makes this return puzzling, given that Patricia is back on the Patriots coaching staff after his failed stint in Detroit. I'm sure the folks in the Pats beat will do all they can to get to the bottom of that!
I'll always appreciate what Malcolm Butler did for the Pats; gun to my head, his interception is probably my favorite play in Patriot history. It undoubtedly changed the narratives for two franchises and Tom Brady (imagine if he was 3-3 in Super Bowls after starting 3-0?). But at 32 and a year away from the game, who knows what Butler's got left in the tank? Again, he was solid in 2020, but I think it's fair to be a tad skeptical. (even though the romantic in me loves the potential #narrative of this story)
I guess this is why they say it's important to always leave on good terms because you never know where life will take you. Malcolm handled his benching with a lot more class than I know I would if I was in that situation. He got his bag in Tennessee, and I suppose enough time has passed where all parties are comfortable with a reunion. I know the AFC got a lot better this off-season, and the Patriots are gonna need a lot more help than a sentimental reunion to get back into the playoffs and have a competitive contest (although I do think if Brandon Bolden doesn't have that drop on the opening drive that Pats at the very least keep it close for another quarter).
Linda Holiday blocked me on IG for talking shit about Bill benching Malcolm in 2018 lolol. I'm not that guy anymore!