The 2017 NFL season isn’t even 48 hours old from being over and I’m already tired of answering questions on Twitter about whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers will sign New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler during the upcoming free agent signing period.
In case you have been in coma, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick effectively decided to bench Butler for Super Bowl LII and the real reason as to why he did so has yet to be uncovered. On Monday, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that Butler’s benching Sunday night was a result of a “perfect storm” of problems that included the cornerback suffering through an illness last week in addition to him having a rough couple of practices and him also committing a minor violation of team rules that is believed to be related to curfew. While not yet substantiated, a few other rumors indicate that Butler was also caught with marijuana.
Regardless of the reason or reasons why Butler was ultimately benched Sunday night night for Super Bowl LII and wasn’t eventually inserted into the game in the second half when it was clear that his replacements couldn’t cover the Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers, I’m sure Belichick is fine with his decision to do so. At this point, it really doesn’t matter as to what the reason or reasons were and Butler unequivocally won’t be wearing a Patriots uniform in 2018.
Butler was a restricted free agent last offseason and the Patriots placed a first-round tender on him. Even though there were rumblings after Butler signed his tender that the Patriots might trade him or even sign him to a long-term contract extension, neither of those two scenarios happened. Instead, Butler went on to play in all 16 regular season games for the Patriots in 2017 and started 15 of them on his way to registering 60 total tackles, 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 1 sack and 12 total pass breakups.
Even though Butler’s play during the 2017 season wasn’t as good as it’s been in previous seasons, he’s still likely going to be one of the top-rated free agent cornerbacks on the market this upcoming offseason. In short, he will more than likely be overpaid by some team during the first full week of the 2018 free agent signing period and that team won’t be the Steelers.
On top of everything else, the Steelers aren’t likely going to be in the market for any free agent cornerback during the offseason. For starters, the Steelers already have two starting outside cornerbacks in Artie Burns and Joe Haden and there’s no current signs indicating that either will be released during the offseason. Additionally, the Steelers also have young cornerbacks Cameron Sutton, Mike Hilton and Brian Allen all under contract right now and barring something totally unforeseen, all three will be on the 2018 53-man roster along with Burns and Haden. As for veteran cornerbacks William Gay and Coty Sensabaugh, both of whom are currently under contract for the 2018 season, while there’s a good chance that both might be jettisoned at some point between now and early September, a replacement for one or both of them won’t come in the form of a high-priced free agent such as Butler.
In summation, thers zero chance that Butler will be wearing a Steelers uniform in 2018 and so it’s useless to continue asking about him and the prospects of that ultimately happening. Before any of you ask, no, Butler is also not a candidate to be signed by the Steelers and moved to free safety.