The NFL offseason is upon us and it’s an exciting time for NFL fans everywhere. Free agency is a little over a month away, but it’s never too early for teams to start targeting players. Some of you may have forgotten that the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, given all the drama surrounding the New England Patriots.
Between Malcolm Butler, Bill Belichick, and Josh McDaniels, there is enough news to go around for an entire offseason. Speaking of Butler, he is going to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. After being benched in the Super Bowl, there is almost a zero percent chance that Butler wants to remain in New England.
He did have a rough season, but at the end of the day, he’s still a Pro Bowl cornerback that could help a team like the Chicago Bears.
As things sit today, the Bears have zero impact starting cornerbacks. Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, and Bryce Callahan are going to be free agents, while Marcus Cooper is coming off a very disappointing season. General manager Ryan Pace has to upgrade this position for 2018.
Adding a player like Butler would be a great first step in the right direction.
Obviously, there will be people who are against the Bears going after Butler given what has transpired over the last few weeks and in 2017. However, there are more positives than negatives that would come with this signing.
Here are five reasons the Bears should target Butler in free agency.
1. Learning from His Mistakes
We probably will never find out why Butler was benched in the Super Bowl. Either way, there was one or two reasons behind it and we can assume Butler has learned his lessons from those mistakes. There is no greater punishment than being benched for an entire Super Bowl. I wanted to address this first because there are going to be people out there that will not want to sign Butler because of his cloudy past. During 95% of his time with the Patriots, he has been a solid player and even better teammate.
Butler was an undrafted free agent out of West Alabama that the Patriots took a chance on in 2014. He is best known for an interception he made in the Super Bowl three years ago against the Seattle Seahawks. However, not many people know that Butler has been one of the Patriots most consistent players over the last three years.
Over the last three seasons, Butler has played in all 48 regular season games for the Patriots. Over that time, Butler recorded eight interceptions. Looking at statistics can be misleading, especially when looking at the cornerback position. If you look at Kyle Fuller‘s numbers from this past season you wouldn’t believe he had the good year he did.
Anyway, Butler was the Patriots’ number one guy, who would cover the opposing team’s top wide receiver or tight end. For the last three years he did a solid job and above all, he was able to stay on the field. I don’t even remember the last Bears’ player to be healthy for three straight seasons.
3. Playoff/Super Bowl Experience
The Bears now have a promising young core on defense. With that being said, they could use a few more players like Butler who understand how to win a when it matters most. Butler has played in two Super Bowls (would have been three if he played last week) and in many big games. His work both on and off the field would show players like Fuller, Eddie Jackson, and Adrian Amos what it takes to be successful in the NFL. To me, this is an underrated aspect of what Butler would bring to the Bears in my opinion.
4. Would be Great Alongside Kyle Fuller
It would be foolish for Pace to not give Fuller the franchise tag. It will allow the Bears to get another look at him after his first real strong season in the NFL. The Bears cannot afford to make the same mistake they did with Alshon Jeffery, who should have got tagged again or gotten a long-term deal.
Thankfully, Fuller was able to emerge this past season after he was called out by many, including defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. The problem is even if the Bears do tag Fuller that’s still only one good cornerback on the roster. Teams who contend for playoff spots usually have two or three.
That’s why signing someone like Butler or drafting a corner should be at the top of Pace’s to do list. Assuming the Bears keep Fuller, adding Butler would make for a very solid one-two combination. A Bears’ secondary of Amos, Jackson, Butler, and Fuller is pretty scary on paper.
During his time in the NFL, Butler has played both on the outside and in the slot. His skill-set probably makes him better in the slot, but he’s never been afraid to take on the tough challenge of being up against a team’s number one receiver. His play has been pretty steady both in the slot and on the outside, which is even more reason the Bears should consider signing him.
Before signing Butler, it would be a smart idea for any team to find out why he was benched in the Super Bowl. I would imagine it’s nothing too serious, but no one really knows why right now and there is a ton of speculation. Besides that, everything else checks out. Butler is still young at 27 and has the experience every team in the NFL wants. Don’t be surprised if the Bears are linked to Butler this offseason.