Malcolm Butler on return to Patriots: ‘One thing I learned is you never burn your bridges’

In the years since his Super Bowl LII benching, cornerback Malcolm Butler never aired his grievances, electing to keep the matter closed after moving on from the New England Patriots.

Now that he’s back in Foxborough, the 32-year-old still doesn’t have anything to say about the past.

“I ain’t got too much to say about that,” Butler said Monday, per NFL Network’s Kayla Burton. “I’m trying to live in the present, I moved forward from that… I’m here for the Patriots.”

Butler was infamously benched during the Patriots’ Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in February 2018. He signed a big-money deal with the Tennessee Titans following the campaign, where he spent three seasons. In 2021, he inked a deal with Arizona but retired before the season.

Butler unretired this spring and made a surprise return to New England, signing a two-year contract. Even the veteran corner said when he left the Patriots the first time, he never expected to play for Bill Belichick again.

“One thing I learned is you never burn your bridges,” he said. “…Whatever my role is, that’s what I’ll make it.”

It’s unclear how much Butler has left in the tank after sitting out an entire season. But he knows Belichick’s defense and fits the Patriots’ mold. In need of aid in the secondary after J.C. Jackson signed in L.A. this offseason, Butler could fill the void. Belichick will likely look to the draft later this month to finish filling out the corner crew.

Butler said he was surprised the Pats were considering bringing him back.

“It came as a surprise,” Butler said. “My agent told me Bill wanted to talk with me. I was happy. I started working out immediately because I knew it could be a possibility that I could return.”

As for the past benching, Butler was asked if it was difficult not to express his feelings publicly after he was off the Patriots.

“It wasn’t hard,” he said. “You keep your feelings in house. I had a talk with Bill Belichick, we had a talk about it like grown men … it’s 2022, you can’t live in the past.”

He might not be living in the past, but the past has come back around for the once-upon-a-time hero of Super Bowl XLIX. Butler is back where it all started.

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