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2021 NFL free agency: Patriots lose defensive tackle Adam Butler to Dolphins on reported two-year, $9 million contract

Related: Patriots free agency tracker: News, rumors, signings, instant analysis

NFL: JAN 03 Jets at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins are no strangers to each other. Not only are the two AFC East rivals facing each other twice a year, there also has been a steady flow of talent between the two recently. Just this offseason alone, the Patriots added defensive tackle Davon Godchaux and center Ted Karras. The Dolphins, meanwhile, will bring defensive tackle Adam Butler on board.

As first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Butler will sign a two-year deal in Miami worth up to $9 million.

An undrafted free agent in 2017, Butler has appeared in 70 of a possible 71 games for the Patriots over the last four seasons and registered 17 sacks as well as 88 other quarterback pressures. Along the way, he saw his role steadily evolve as well: after primarily serving as a sub-package pass rusher earlier in his career, he has since become a three-down defender capable of also holding his own in the running game.

Despite a shoulder injury bothering him for much of 2020, Butler still appeared in 15 of the Patriots’ 16 games last season and was the number three interior defensive lineman in terms of playing time: only Deatrich Wise Jr. and Lawrence Guy were on the field for more than his 481 defensive snaps. Just like his teammates was also used in more than just one role.

Butler aligned in multiple D-line techniques throughout the season, and was moved around the front line on a regular basis. Some of his usage was necessitated by the fact that the Patriots failed to properly replace the big-bodied Danny Shelton at the nose all year (his supposed replacement, Beau Allen, missed the entire season due to injury).

However, New England’s coaches also were looking to create favorable matchups to take advantage of Butler’s strong technique and quick get-off especially in the passing game. As a result, he finished the year with 27 total quarterback disruptions — including 4.0 sacks.

Now, he will take his talents to a Dolphins team coached by long-time Patriots assistant Brian Flores — thus following in the footsteps of fellow New England defenders such as Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Eric Rowe.