‘A lot to prove’ in second stint with Patriots

The New England Patriots are back on the practice field for their second week of organized team activities and a Super Bowl hero is relishing his return to Foxborough.Cornerback Malcolm Butler, who sealed the Patriots’ victory in Super Bowl XLIX with a goal-line interception as a rookie, signed with New England in March after being retired from the NFL for nearly six months. “I feel like I have a lot to prove, especially to myself,” Butler said Tuesday. “And if I do it myself, I’ll prove it to my teammates at the same time.” Butler, 32, played the first four of his seven NFL seasons with New England, which signed him as an undrafted free agent out of the University of West Alabama, a Division II program, in 2014.After helping the Patriots win their fourth title and first in 10 years with that pick against the Seahawks, Butler was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015 and earned second-team All-Pro recognition in 2016. He started in New England’s historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, earning his second championship ring.The following season, he was infamously benched and did not play in Super Bowl LII, which New England lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 41-33.Butler departed the Patriots for the Tennessee Titans after the Super Bowl benching on a five-year, $ 61 million contract. He played three seasons for the Titans before he was released in March 2021.He signed with the Arizona Cardinals shortly after he was released by Tennessee, but decided to retire from the NFL due to personal reasons on Aug. 31, 2021. Butler was formally released by the Cardinals this February. “Malcolm is the same player, in my opinion,” Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones said. “He comes out, he works hard and just wants to get better every day. He hasn’t lost that itch for the game.” Butler has racked up 82 pass deflections, 17 interceptions and 388 total tackles in 100 career NFL regular-season games. He also recorded 10 pass deflections and two interceptions in 10 career playoff games.He will likely get a chance to earn a starting spot in his return to the Patriots, as Pro Bowl cornerback JC Jackson agreed to a five-year, $ 82.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Chargers during the offseason.Butler will also be wearing a new number in his second stint with New England, donning No. 4 instead of No. 21. He said the number change is for the team, his family, a different beginning and a new, fresh start.Patriots players who previously wore the No. 4 jersey include kicker Adam Vinatieri, a three-time Super Bowl champion with New England, and quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders on May 13.

The New England Patriots are back on the practice field for their second week of organized team activities and a Super Bowl hero is relishing his return to Foxborough.

Cornerback Malcolm Butler, who sealed the Patriots’ victory in Super Bowl XLIX with a goal-line interception as a rookie, signed with New England in March after being retired from the NFL for nearly six months.

“I feel like I have a lot to prove, especially to myself,” Butler said Tuesday. “And if I do it myself, I’ll prove it to my teammates at the same time.”

Butler, 32, played the first four of his seven NFL seasons with New England, which signed him as an undrafted free agent out of the University of West Alabama, a Division II program, in 2014.

After helping the Patriots win their fourth title and first in 10 years with that pick against the Seahawks, Butler was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015 and earned second-team All-Pro recognition in 2016. He started in New England’s historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, earning his second championship ring.

AP Photo / Steven Senne

In this Jan. 25, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler takes questions from reporters in the team’s locker room following NFL football practice in Foxborough, Mass.

The following season, he was infamously benched and did not play in Super Bowl LII, which New England lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 41-33.

Butler departed the Patriots for the Tennessee Titans after the Super Bowl benching on a five-year, $ 61 million contract. He played three seasons for the Titans before he was released in March 2021.

He signed with the Arizona Cardinals shortly after he was released by Tennessee, but decided to retire from the NFL due to personal reasons on Aug. 31, 2021. Butler was formally released by the Cardinals this February.

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“Malcolm is the same player, in my opinion,” Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones said. “He comes out, he works hard and just wants to get better every day. He hasn’t lost that itch for the game.”

Butler has racked up 82 pass deflections, 17 interceptions and 388 total tackles in 100 career NFL regular-season games. He also recorded 10 pass deflections and two interceptions in 10 career playoff games.

He will likely get a chance to earn a starting spot in his return to the Patriots, as Pro Bowl cornerback JC Jackson agreed to a five-year, $ 82.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Chargers during the offseason.

Butler will also be wearing a new number in his second stint with New England, donning No. 4 instead of No. 21. He said the number change is for the team, his family, a different beginning and a new, fresh start.

Patriots players who previously wore the No. 4 jersey include kicker Adam Vinatieri, a three-time Super Bowl champion with New England, and quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders on May 13.

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