The Genius of Belichick

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Did Bill Belichick do it again or did Bill Belichick do it again? Once again, Bill Belichick has let a player leave in free agency for a big contract and that player has struggled to live up to the deal they signed. It’s amazing how often this happens, but other teams continue to fall for it. In this case, it’s cornerback Malcolm Butler who has fallen victim to this trend.

Butler is a hero in New England for his Super Bowl-winning goal-line interception against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 49. He was also the center of controversy after being benched in New England’s Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles this past February. However, the further we get from that Super Bowl, and the more we see Butler play, it’s becoming a bit more obvious of why Butler was benched and then allowed to leave in free agency: He’s not that good.

Look, he’s only nine games into a five-year contract, so the sample size is still quite small, but you have to think that the Titans are having buyer’s remorse right now. Statistically speaking, Malcolm Butler has been one of, if not the, worst cornerbacks in football this year.

Here are some examples of how bad he has been this season: - According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Butler has been the nearest defender on 6 touchdowns this year. The second most in the NFL. - According to Pro Football Focus, Butler is the 82nd ranked cornerback this season. - Butler’s 140.6 passer rating when targeted is the fourth highest in the NFL among qualified cornerbacks

- Butler has allowed 39 catches for 618 yards and seven touchdowns, these are all the most in the NFL.

It’s becoming hard to watch. On a weekly basis you are sure to find a play or two where he gets his ankle absolutely broken by the receiver he is covering. Something we saw twice last night against the Dallas Cowboys.

Titans fans have been begging for him to be benched for weeks, and people are really starting to question why the Titans gave him a contract that had $30 million guaranteed.

It also doesn’t help Butler’s case that Stephon Gilmore, who the Patriots decided to give a big contract to instead of Butler, has been exceptional this year. He’s Pro Football Focus’ 5th ranked cornerback this season and is coming off a game where he played man-to-man against Davante Adams and only allowed two catches (on six targets), for a total of 12 yards, to go along with two pass breakups. All of this against Aaron Rodgers, who has been anointed the GOAT by some people who lack brain function.

Another thing that hurts Butler is who the Patriots replaced him with. In response to losing Butler to free agency, the Patriots traded a sixth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Jason McCourty and a seventh-round pick. How has McCourty performed this year? Oh, you know, just good enough to be Pro Football Focus’ 9th ranked cornerback. To rub even more salt in this fresh wound, Butler’s cap hit this year is $6 million while McCourty’s is just under $3.4 million.

With all of that said, I fully expect Butler to have a pick six and no less than 5 pass breakups this weekend when the Titans take on the Tom Brady and the surging Patriots. It just seems inevitable that that sort of thing would happen.

PS. I may be bagging on Butler pretty bad here, but I’ll always be grateful for him giving me one of the happiest moments of my life. Malcolm Go!

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