New Arizona Cardinals cornerback Malcolm Butler loves football. Simple as that.
He got a good reminder of that this offseason.
With multiple teams strapped for cash with the lowered cap ceiling for 2021, the free agent market was a bit more tricky to navigate for players like Butler, who was released despite an impressive 2020.
But once he got a call from the Phoenix area, his football instincts kicked in.
“It was an easy decision. The Cardinals pursued me and I felt like it was a perfect fit,” Butler said via Zoom on Tuesday. “You’ve got some good players on this team. You’ve got Budda Baker, you’ve got [DeAndre] Hopkins, [Kyler] Murray, [Larry] Fitzgerald. You can go on and on.
“I had a good taste of Arizona when I was here during Super Bowl XLIX and I just felt like it was a perfect fit for me. I love the color red and I like the moves that the Cardinals did this year.”
“It’s an upcoming team and it’s something I want to be a part of,” Butler told Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday. “You’ve got great weather and this is where I started my journey basically so I just thought it was a perfect fit for me.”
Arizona marks stop No. 3 for the CB, having played for the New England Patriots from 2014-17, and most recently the Tennessee Titans the past three seasons. Over the course of his seven-year career, Butler has accounted for 17 interceptions, 82 pass deflections and 406 tackles in 100 games (84 starts).
He tied a career-high in interceptions (4) and reached the 100-mark for tackles at the age of 30 in 2021.
“It’s all about being committed. It’s all about doing your job, leading and being a true pro,” Butler said when asked about what he’s gained from coaches like Bill Belichick, Brian Flores and Mike Vrabel. “Doing the things the right way, even the little things. Just giving it your all and being a good teammate and wanting to go out there and play.
“It’s not going to be perfect, but if you give a lot of effort and you finish strong and you do the right thing, you commit to the game, you commit to the organization, things should be easy.”
Butler’s also already made a name for himself at State Farm Stadium, too, long before he knew he would be donning the Cardinal red.
As a member of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, Butler was etched into the championship’s book of top plays.
With time running out and the Seattle Seahawks threatening in the red zone, the then-rookie Butler got the best of QB Russell Wilson and head coach Pete Carroll, coming down with the interception that sealed the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory.
“It’s kinda crazy that I’ll 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 when asked what he thought on returning to the Valley. “It’s kinda amazing.”
As for the team that left with a broken heart that fateful night? Butler gets to line up against his new rival twice in 2021.
“I never played in Seattle. I think I’ve been to every stadium except Seattle. … I never played on this side of the world, but I’m pretty sure there’s gonna be some tension whenever I go to Seattle,” Butler said.
“But it’s not about Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks. It’s all about Arizona and what I can do for this team and how I can make it better.”