Malcolm Butler's fresh start in Arizona has been put on pause indefinitely, if not permanently.
The Cardinals placed Butler on the reserve/retired list on Tuesday, the team announced.
Butler joined Arizona in the spring on a one-year, $3.25 million deal (worth up to $6 million with incentives) and was expected to start opposite Byron Murphy in the role vacated by the departure of Patrick Peterson. Butler had fulfilled that expectation through training camp and most of the preseason before a personal situation caused him to leave the team and consider retirement.
Arizona's official placement of Butler on the reserve/retired list doesn't mean Butler is officially done, but preserves the team's rights to his services while allocating the roster spot Butler would have filled for another active player. Butler can come off the reserve/retired list if he chooses to continue playing football, with the Cardinals required to make a subsequent move to clear a spot for him.
For now, Butler will have as much time as he'd like to decide whether he's done with football for good.
He owns a career of which he can be proud, with his greatest moment coming when he intercepted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on the goal line in the final moments of Super Bowl XLIX, rescuing New England from heartbreaking defeat and cementing his place in Patriots lore. Butler earned another ring in the 2016 season in Super Bowl LI and returned to the game's greatest stage a year later, but was mysteriously benched, playing just one snap -- a special teams play -- in New England's loss to Philadelphia in Super Bowl LII.
Butler made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and was named a second-team All-Pro in 2016 before he headed to Tennessee in 2018, signing a five-year deal worth $61 million with the Titans. He remained an effective corner, but one not quite worth the salary he was earning, leading to his release as a salary cap casualty after three seasons with the Titans. Still seen as a quality defender, Butler's signing addressed a need for the Cardinals entering 2021.
They'll look elsewhere to replace him while he mulls calling it a career.