Jonathan Jones doesn't want Patriots reunion tour to stop at Malcolm Butler

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As the improbable return of Malcolm Butler to Foxboro settles in, New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones is already on to the next reunion.

If Butler can return after his acrimonious departure, highlighted by a pseudo-benching in Super Bowl LII, why can't Stephon Gilmore return after being dealt 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 shoot his shot at getting 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.

The initial signing of Gilmore to a five-year, $65 million deal in March 2017 initially foreshadowed the end of Butler's first stint in New England. Butler moved on to the Tennessee Titans the following offseason and Gilmore would remain in Foxboro, where he won Super Bowl LIII, the DPOY award in '19 and make three Pro Bowl appearances before he was jettisoned for a sixth-round draft pick in 2023.

The Patriots would seem to have bigger needs at the moment than cornerback after re-signing Butler and adding free agent Terrance Mitchell earlier this month. But returns for second tours of duty in Foxboro are hardly unprecedented under Bill Belichick, and if Butler of all people can run it back, why couldn't Gilmore?

Butler is 32 and sat out all of 2021 on the reserved/retired list for the Arizona Cardinals, while Gilmore, 31, was still nominated for a Pro Bowl despite playing just nine games for the Panthers. With another big name wide receiver headed to the AFC East, maybe stocking up at cornerback isn't the worst idea at this juncture. Even if it's tended to be Jonathan Jones himself who draws the assignment of Tyreek Hill in coverage for the Patriots.

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