Bears Need to Think Hard Before Signing Malcomb Butler

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on the Bears free agent options at cornerback:

It would be surprising if there isn’t good interest in [Kyle] Fuller. Where his market heads and what he’s seeking money-wise remains to be seen. The good news is there is solid depth at the position in free agency. Depending on who you talk to, there are two tiers of top available corners. Most folks I spoke to placed Trumaine Johnson of the Rams, Fuller and Bashaud Breeland of the Redskins in the top three. One defensive backs coach I spoke to had Johnson, Fuller and Malcolm Butler of the Patriots. There hasn’t been a ton of chatter about Butler, and who knows what happened leading into Super Bowl LII when he was benched. I don’t know that anyone will ever get the real story on that.

“Who can say what happened with that deal? It was just weird,” said the defensive backs coach. “But he’s a good player. Limited because of his size, but he’s good. He makes plays. He’s got good movement. He’s got a little attitude out there. You say he struggled this season and I counter that they didn’t have any pass rush this season at all. You’ve got to consider that.

“That’s why when I was doing my report on Aaron Colvin (Jaguars cornerback), I had a hard time. Nice player, but it was hard to write a report on him because that defense was just avalanching quarterbacks the entire season. You watch the cornerbacks in Jacksonville and they were just sitting on routes, which I would have done, too, because of that pass rush. So how is Colvin going to fit in your system if you can’t get after the quarterback like that? That’s the challenge. Nice player, but I think he’s in the next tier.”

Points are all well taken on Butler. But I’ve become convinced that the Super Bowl benching was a football decision just as the Patriots say it was.

Butler was never used on the opponent’s best receiver playing for the Patriots. It was always a situation where they either double teamed that player or, after they acquired him, put Stephon Gilmore on him. They always put Butler on the other side. The reason is simple. At 5’11” he was too short to cover the larger outside receivers that often dominate in the NFL. Butler could only be trusted covering lesser receivers or quicker receivers on the shorter side of normal.

The “long and the short of it” is possibly just that Butler just wasn’t good enough and the Patriots thought they’d have better luck without using him in coverage.

Bottom line, the Patriots didn’t consider Butler to be a top of the line cornerback. The Bears are probably better off without over paying Butler and should only consider him if his price tag comes in lower than expected.

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