MALCOLM BUTLER BENCHED, PROBABLY OUT IN NEW ENGLAND
The New England Patriots’ benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler during last Sunday’s Super Bowl was a total Bill Belichick move.
More reports are coming out about what really caused the commotion. Either way, one would think a man’s transgressions could be put aside for the freaking Super Bowl (especially as tame as they were).
Maybe when a team wins as much as they do in New England, high stakes just seem less dire.
Either way, Butler was benched for the Super Bowl and his future is hazy at best with the Patriots. A full-time starter with New England for the last few seasons, he will certainly garner interest from others in free agency this year.
What it means for the Vikings:
I’m not sure how great of a player Butler is. He’s built his entire career’s prominence off of one play he made three years ago and the Patriots made it their mission this past offseason to find a top-flight corner in Stephon Gilmore, showing they already had their doubts about Butler’s value.
He only graded out as an average cornerback this season, finishing 51st in the league according to Pro Football Focus. Still, average corner play is worth something in the NFL.
The Vikings already boast an established shutdown cornerback in Xavier Rhodes. Terence Newman has been a great platoon player, but his age shows and who knows if he’ll be back with the team next season.
Mackenzie Alexander is a work in progress (at best) and is usually found playing the slot. Trae Waynes continues to improve, but his play is sometimes erratic. Pro Football Focus graded him lower than Butler in 2017, slotting him at 68th among all corners.
I don’t think it’s an essential addition. The secondary is acceptable as it currently stands, and it’s very possible that a team ends up overpaying for Butler and the prestige his name holds.
But if he’s affordable and willing, Butler could add depth and solid playoff experience. For my money (and Pro Football Focus’ at that), Butler would make a better number two corner over Waynes for Minnesota.