Malcolm Butler needs to be a shutdown corner for the Cardinals

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Malcolm Butler
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Malcolm Butler /

The Arizona Cardinals defensive unit needs to get a stellar performance this coming fall out of the free-agent cornerback.

When Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim began his preparations for the 2021 offseason, locking down a shutdown cornerback was a high priority.

The need at the position became even more dire when Patrick Peterson left the club to sign a contract with the Minnesota Vikings. It’s not known if the Cards had any interest in bringing the 31-year-old back into the nest, but Peterson’s departure definitely left Arizona with a gigantic need for a number-one cover guy.

Enter Malcolm Butler, a free agent corner who was fresh off an outstanding season with the Tennessee Titans. The 31-year-old veteran was released by the Titans back in March in what appeared to be a cost-cutting move, and the Cardinals were more than happy to bring Butler to the desert.

Butler, a former undrafted free agent who began his career with the New England Patriots, will be under a ton of pressure to perform for the Redbirds in 2021. If someone were to list the strengths of the current Cards roster, the cornerback spot would certainly not be one of them.

Arizona Cardinals depth at cornerback is far from ideal

Besides Butler, the best cover guy in the Arizona secondary at the moment would have to be Byron Murphy. The talented youngster has spent time on the perimeter, but the 5-foot-11,190-pounder seems to be most comfortable in the slot.

The Cardinals’ number-two corner right now is Robert Alford, a 32-year-old who originally signed with the team back in February of 2019. There are major questions surrounding Alford due to the fact that the former Atlanta Falcons starter has not played in a game that counts since 2018.

Other options at the position for Arizona include Darqueze Dennard, a 29-year-old who has appeared in just 17 matchups over the past two years. Keim did add two rookie cornerbacks to the mix during this year’s draft. The University of Florida’s Marco Wilson was taken in the fourth round, while the University of Central Florida’s Tay Gowan was selected in round six.

Butler was absolutely magnificent for the Titans in 2020. In 16 starts, the two-time Super Bowl champion totaled 100 tackles, four interceptions, and 14 pass breakups. Tennessee saved cap space by cutting him, but you have to wonder if the franchise’s decision to part ways with Butler was a wise one.

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Arizona’s front office has to be thrilled that Tennessee decided to cut ties with Butler. Let’s hope that the squad’s new number-one cover guy can be everything that the Cardinals expect him to be and more this coming fall.