Malcolm Butler’s interception in Super Bowl XLIX preserved a 28-24 victory for the Patriots over the Seattle Seahawks. Three years later, Butler spent most of Super Bowl LII on the bench during a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles despite being a starter for the Patriots throughout the season. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Four years after his famous benching in Super Bowl LII, Malcolm Butler is back in a Patriots uniform.

Butler emerged from a brief retirement to sign a two-year deal with New England on Wednesday, a source confirmed to the Boston Herald. The 32-year-old cornerback last played in 2020, when he started every game for the Titans and posted career highs with four interceptions and 100 tackles. He announced his retirement last August, following a short stint with the Cardinals.

Butler started his career as an undrafted rookie with the Patriots in 2014. He completed their storybook season by snatching a goal-line interception in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks to seal the franchise’s fourth championship. He spent three more years with the Patriots, including one Pro Bowl campaign. His tenure ended famously with a mysterious benching during the team’s loss to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII.

That night, Butler took just one rep on the Pats’ punt return team and did not play a defensive snap. He left the following offseason to sign a 5-year, $61.25 million free-agent deal with the Titans. Over three seasons in Tennessee, he started 36 of 41 regular-season games, snatched nine picks, broke up 35 passes and made 201 tackles.

Butler worked out for the Patriots on Monday, a couple weeks after trying out for the Texans and former Pats director of player personnel Nick Caserio. He should help fill a major roster hole at cornerback, where the Pats have lost Pro Bowler J.C. Jackson to free agency and signed journeyman Terrance Mitchell.

Last year, Jackson replaced two-time All-Pro Stephon Gilmore as the team’s No. 1 corner. In 2018, Gilmore replaced Butler, who played against the Patriots that season, his first in Tennessee. Before and after the game – a 34-10 Titans win – he insisted there was no bad blood between himself and Coach Bill Belichick.

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According to Butler, Belichick thanked him and wished him well during an on-field chat.

“Good luck for the rest of the season. And he was glad to work with me for four years,” Butler told reporters post-game. “And I just told him the same thing back.”

The next summer, the Patriots and Titans practiced against one another before a preseason game in Nasvhille. Butler reiterated he and Belichick were on good terms.

“I enjoyed my time there, and everything happens for a reason. And I’m still happy, I’m still in the NFL,” Butler said. “I still have great relationships with those guys, so it’s all good.”

The Patriots now have Butler, Mitchell, Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones, Myles Bryant Joejuan Williams, Shaun Wade and Justin Bethel on their cornerback depth chart.


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