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With Malcolm Butler back, Jonathan Jones eyes Stephon Gilmore’s return to Patriots

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Jonathan Jones doesn’t want the Patriots’ reunion tour to stop at Malcolm Butler originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

As Malcolm Butler’s unlikely return to Foxboro settles, New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones is already set for the next meeting.

If Butler can return after his acrimonious departure, highlighted by a pseudo-bench in Super Bowl LII, why can’t Stephon Gilmore return after being traded to the Carolina Panthers amid a contract dispute last season?

Never say never, right?

Jones, who played with Butler and Gilmore in 2017 in New England, took to Twitter to fire off his chance to get the band back together on Wednesday afternoon.

Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, remains unsigned as free agency extends into its second week.

Gilmore’s initial signing to a five-year, $65 million deal in March 2017 initially heralded the end of Butler’s first season in New England. Butler moved to the Tennessee Titans the following offseason and Gilmore would remain in Foxboro, where he won Super Bowl LIII, the DPOY award in 2019 and made three Pro Bowl appearances before being dropped for a sixth-round draft pick. of 2023.

The Patriots would appear to have greater needs right now than the cornerback after re-signing Butler and adding free agent Terrance Mitchell earlier this month. But returns from second tours at Foxboro are unprecedented under Bill Belichick, and if Butler of all people can do it again, why couldn’t Gilmore?

Butler is 32 years old and did not spend all of 2021 on the Arizona Cardinals’ reserve/retired list, while Gilmore, 31, was still nominated for a Pro Bowl despite playing only nine games for the Panthers. With another big-name wide receiver heading to the AFC East, stocking up at cornerback might not be the worst idea right now. Even if it tends to be Jonathan Jones himself who draws Tyreek Hill’s assignment in Patriots coverage.

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