Butler on Being Released: 'Surprised But ... Wasn't'

The veteran cornerback happy to end up with the Arizona Cardinals after the sudden end to his time with the Tennessee Titans.
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Malcolm Butler’s decision to sign with the Arizona Cardinals, after being released by the Tennessee Titans, apparently was an easy one.

The 31-year-old cornerback settled on the Cardinals three weeks after the Titans cut him loose despite the fact that he had two years remaining on his contract. The decision was made to free up salary cap space as franchise officials prepared for what became a busy start to free agency.

“I was surprised, but I wasn’t,” Butler said Tuesday in his first press conference with his new team. “This is the NFL, it’s about business. You know the cap space, they had some trouble with that. I was going to make a ton of money this year if I would have stayed. And I’m pretty sure they needed help in other positions. I wasn’t that surprised, but I was. It’s business and they were just doing what’s best for the team.”

Butler signed a five-year $61.25 million contract with the Titans in 2018. He played out three of the five years on the contract. And in his last season in Tennessee, Butler recorded 100 tackles in 16 games and tied for the team lead with four interceptions, in what he called one of his best seasons to date. He also defended 14 passes.

The decision to release him saved the Titans $10.2 million in salary cap space. His contract with Arizona is for one year and $6 million.

“It was an easy decision,” Butler said. “I felt like it was a perfect fit. You got some good players on this team. … I like the moves the Cardinals made this year.”

He now brings his experience and aggressive style of play to Arizona, where he will assume the No. 1 cornerback role due to the departure of Patrick Peterson. And with that role comes expanded leadership responsibilities, something that he is prepared for.

An interesting aspect of Butler’s decision is that he now has an opportunity to play half of his games in the same arena that helped build his name in Super Bowl LIX. His famous goal-line interception on Russell Wilson, and the Seattle Seahawks, took place in State Farm Stadium.

“It’s kinda crazy that I will be playing a lot of home games where I first became well known and made one of the best plays in Super Bowl history,” Butler said.

It seems that, for Butler, ending up in Arizona was just as much fate as it was an opportunity. And though the decision came easy for him once he was released by Tennessee, he plans on taking all he learned and utilizing it in his new home.

“It’s all about being committed. It’s all about doing your job, leading and being a true pro,” he said. “I am all about football, and I am all about being a leader.”