How Malcolm Butler fits in with the Arizona Cardinals

Malcolm Butler's interception to seal the Patriots' Super Bowl XLIX win over the Seahawks happened at State Farm Stadium. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

TEMPE, Ariz. -- To Malcolm Butler, age -- especially his age -- is just a number.

Butler, the former New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans cornerback who signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals last month, doesn't see his age, 31, as a hinderance or a hurdle. It doesn't seem to matter to him that there's a widely-held belief that corners start to diminish after they hit 30.

In fact, Butler thinks he's in line to have another career season.

"I'll ball harder this year," he said.

And if Butler wants to show the younger Cardinals cornerbacks how success can come from hard work, all he has to do is walk them out to the goal line of the south end zone at State Farm Stadium. That's where he intercepted Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIX, securing a title for the Patriots.

Butler will bring that Super Bowl experience to a franchise anxiously waiting to win its first.

"You got to play together to be a Super Bowl team," Butler said. "... The team got to be led by the players, those are the best teams. Everybody got to be committed. We got to put the hard work in and everyone has to be on the same page."

And that, Butler believes, can help the Cardinals make a push for the playoffs -- and even a Super Bowl appearance.

"I most definitely think we can make a push," he said. "Guys get older and things like that, but if you're doing the right thing with your body, you're staying focused, you're committed to the game, you're committed to one goal and that's just winning, if everybody has the same mindset, that's what we're gonna do."

Butler comes to Arizona tasked with filling the successful shoes of Patrick Peterson, who signed with the Minnesota Vikings after 10 seasons with the Cardinals. During that decade, Peterson established himself as one of the top corners in the league with eight straight Pro Bowl nods, three All-Pro selections and a spot on the NFL's all-decade team for the 2010s.

Now it's Butler's turn to be the Cardinals' top corner, but Butler isn't trying to be Peterson -- even if he takes over Peterson's No. 21 ("I'm not sure about the jersey number," he said), which Butler wore in New England and Tennessee.

"Not too many people can replace a Patrick Peterson," Butler said. "I got a lot of respect for him.

"I'm the type of leader that wants to lead physically and not verbally all the time. You can't lead a group or anybody if you're just always talking. You got to be about that action. You got to go out there and to work in. You got to do it on and off the field."

Butler will benefit from another one of the Cardinals' free-agent signings: J.J. Watt. Playing behind pass-rushers such as Watt and Chandler Jones, who Butler played with in New England, are what corners think about in their sleep.

"It's good to have those guys when you're playing cornerback on an island with those fast and athletic receivers," he said.

Butler's been married to the Super Bowl interception of Wilson since it happened, but when he was deciding on which team to join during free agency, the play didn't enter his mind.

"I actually wasn't really thinking about it like that," he said. "A lot of people just mentioned it to me over and over, but it's kind of crazy. ... I'll be playing a lot of home games where I first became well known and made one of the best plays in Super Bowl history.

"Kind of amazing."