As I watched the thrilling Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, one thing I wanted to keep an eye on were the pending free agents on both teams. As I watched the Eagles through the playoffs, it was obvious that their defense was special and would be a reason they would win the Super Bowl. The Patriots did not have a top 10 defense but their defense did not give up a lot of points. Well, at least until the Super Bowl. So I was looking for a defensive player who would be a free agent that would make an immediate impact on the defensive side of the football.
One guy stood out to me and he didn’t even play in the Super Bowl. He is cornerback Malcolm Butler. He is set to become top cornerbacks on this year’s free agent market. After he was benched during the Patriots biggest game of the year, and he comments afterwards on how the team gave up on him, it became apparent that Butler is unlikely to return to the AFC Champions in 2018. They could franchise tag him, but I wouldn’t think that would happen after the benching and his comments.
He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015 and then to the All-Pro team in 2016. Most fans may remember Butler from the 2014 Super Bowl between the Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. He not only made the biggest play of the game but also of his career by intercepting Seahawks QB Russell Wilson at the goal line to clinch the forth Super Bowl championship for New England.
By adding Butler to the secondary, he would immediately become the Packers number 1 cornerback and help Kevin King grow, as they could become one of the best cornerback tandems in the league. He is an exceptional cover corner and since 2015, he has recorded at least 2 interceptions a year and averaged 15 passes defended. Green Bay’s secondary is far from good, so these numbers would be an upgrade to what we currently have on the roster.
I also feel that he would bring a tenacity, and swagger to a defense lacking attitude and aggressiveness. Green Bay hasn’t had a player in the secondary that could upgrade the entire unit since Charles Woodson was roaming the backend of the defense. He would instantly provide new defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, with another playmaker to go along with Mike Daniels, Ha Ha Clinton Dix, and Morgan Burnett.
The Packers will have to be aggressive early on in the free agent market to acquire Butler as I would suspect many teams would be after a player of his talents. By adding Butler in free agency, this always GM Brian Gutekunst to target other positions on the defensive side of the football and offensive in the NFL draft. Drafting a pass rusher and signing Butler would instantly upgrade the defense and provide the Packers with a better opportunity to reach the Super Bowl next year.
If new General Manager Brian Gutekunst wants to make a statement and separate himself from Ted Thompson, he needs to make a splash in free agency to get this team back to championship caliber football. Malcolm Butler would be the splash needed to upgrade the secondary and defense to bring a fifth Super Bowl championship to Titletown.
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag