Make no mistake, Malcolm Butler’s five-year $61,250,000 contract is undoubtedly the biggest reason for the 28-year-old cornerback’s move from the New England Patriots to the Titans this offseason. But Butler’s decision was based on more than just money, and there are plenty of positive signs that point toward instant success for the 28-year-old in Tennessee.
It starts with coaching.
After the additions of defensive coordinator Dean Pees and secondary coach Kerry Coombs, Butler is coming to a team with coaches who boast a proven track record of success with cornerbacks.
In 2006, Pees’ first season as the New England Patriots’ defensive coordinator, cornerback Asante Samuel finished with his career high in interceptions (10) and passes defended (24). In their second season together, Samuel was selected to the Pro Bowl and was voted first-team All-Pro.
When Pees was promoted to defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 his success with cornerbacks continued. Ladarius Webb posted career numbers in passes defended and tackles in his first full season under Pees, and Jimmy Smith ranked fourth in passer rating when targeted as the Raven’s top corner in 2017.
Add former Ohio State coach Kerry Coombs into the coaching mix, and now the team has two guys who should do a great job of getting Butler in the right spots.
In six seasons as the cornerbacks coach for the Buckeyes, Coombs had four players become first-round selections. One of those players includes Marshon Lattimore, who made the Pro Bowl last season as a rookie.
But the optimism for Butler’s first season goes beyond coaching, the fifth-year player also has history in his favor.
Samuel, New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward all made the Pro Bowl in their fifth professional season, and all of those players also made the Pro Bowl in their first season with a new team.
So don’t expect any setbacks for Butler in adjusting to the new defense. In fact, some of the more recent big-name corners have performed better after joining a new team.
According to pro-football-reference.com’s approximate value (AV) metric, Hayward and Jenkins had huge bumps in AV after changing teams, while superstar corners like Josh Norman and Darrelle Revis only had a slight decline.
With both Butler and four-time Pro-Bowl player Richard Sherman on new teams, one would expect the positive trends for on-the-move corners continue next season.
Butler finished last season with two interceptions, 12 passes defended and 55 tackles in 16 regular-season games.