A day after a report revealed that Malcolm Butler was considering retirement, the Arizona Cardinals placed the veteran cornerback on the NFL's reserve/retired list.
The Cardinals announced the transaction on Tuesday as NFL teams faced a deadline to trim their rosters to 53 players. The team also acknowledged that Butler has been absent from practice this week "and is contemplating retirement for personal reasons," confirming a Monday report from NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury addressed Butler's situation with reporters, declaring that his longterm NFL status "remains to be seen."
"I don't want to get into hypotheticals just yet," Kingsbury said.
What reserve/retired status means for Butler, Cardinals
Butler's placement on the reserve/retired list doesn't mean that he's retired. It simply allows the Cardinals to retain his rights without taking up a roster spot. If Butler decides not to retire, the Cardinals can activate him alongside a subsequent cut to keep the active roster at 53 players.
The nature of Butler's "personal reasons" remain unclear. Per the Cardinals, multiple players expressed support for Butler, who signed a one-year deal worth $3.25 million guaranteed to join the team as a free agent during the offseason. He previously played for the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots.
"I hope that he finds clarity," wide receiver Christian Kirk said.
Cardinals were already thin at cornerback
Butler, 31, was expected to start in the Cardinals secondary opposite cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. after the departure of three-time All-Pro Patrick Peterson to the Minnesota Vikings. Rookies Marco Wilson and Tay Gowan and seventh-year veteran Robert Alford will be asked to step up in Butler's absence. The Cardinals were already down a cornerback after placing Darqueze Dennard on season-ending injured reserve on Monday.
Butler is best known his goal-line interception of Russell Wilson in the end zone in Super Bowl XLIX to secure the New England Patriots' victory over the Seattle Seahawks. The seven-year veteran made a Pro Bowl with New England in 2015. He spent the last three seasons with the Titans before being released in the offseason.