The Tennessee Titans are making an unexpected move in free agency, but they're signing a player they know a little.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Titans are signing former New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler. The deal is for five years and $61 million, with $30 million guaranteed at signing, per NFL.com.
Nonetheless, the Titans know plenty about Butler — with general manager Jon Robinson having come from the Patriots organization. The team also signed Logan Ryan away from New England last year, so it appears that Ryan and Butler will figure into the position prominently, along with 2017 first-round pick Adoree' Jackson.
Butler went from Super Bowl hero in the XLIX victory to goat — of sorts — in the LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He was benched on defense, playing only one special-teams snap in the 41-33 loss to the Eagles despite them racking up 374 yards via the pass behind game MVP Nick Foles.
New head coach Mike Vrabel also has New England roots, and he knows he needs more from a defense that ranked 25th in passing yards allowed and 22nd in interception percentage. Butler is not coming off a career year, but he's played well in recent seasons despite often following top opposing receivers. Interestingly, Butler was beaten twice for touchdowns by rookie wide receiver Corey Davis in the Patriots' divisional-round victory over the Titans.
But it's clear that neither that game nor the Super Bowl benching had much of an effect on Butler's market. The money the Titans are giving him places Butler just inside the top 10 at the position in terms of average per year and practical guarantees. Other teams, such as the Detroit Lions, also were hot on Butler's trail in free agency.