3. Malcolm Butler, CB
This one might surprise some people.
Butler, who is widely known for his Super Bowl XLIX heroics, quietly had a very solid season for the Titans in 2020. Butler was forced into number one CB duties due to Adoree Jackson missing all but 3 regular-season games.
That combined with the loss of Logan Ryan in free agency prior to the season, meant that Butler was the lone returning starter at cornerback this year. Not only did Butler take over as the leader emotionally, but he responded by leading the team in interceptions and being tied for 2nd on the team in tackles.
Butler finished the season with a PFF grade of 71.6, which is remarkable given his huge workload and the lack of any real help from the rest of the defense.
With Logan Ryan gone, and Adoree Jackson and Kristian Fulton out due to injury, one can only imagine what the secondary would have looked like without Butler. Butler was often the one player holding the secondary somewhat together in 2020 and in the rare moments when the Titans got a stop on defense it was #21 making the play not Kenny Vaccaro or Kevin Byard.
With a cap hit of over $14 million in 2021, I’m not sure if Butler will be back in Nashville without a restructured deal. But we should acknowledge the huge role he played for the Titans in 2020: the teams’ lowly defense would’ve been much worse without him.