Butler signed with the Arizona Cardinals last spring but didn't appear in a single game with the team. The Cardinals placed him on the reserve/retired list ahead of the 2021 regular season.
NFL Network's Mike Garafolo had reported the 32-year-old was handling a "personal situation" and considering his long-term future in the NFL:
Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo
Breaking news from <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLTotalAccess?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLTotalAccess</a>: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AZCardinals?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AZCardinals</a> CB Malcolm Butler is dealing with a personal situation that has him mulling retirement, sources tell me. <a href="https://t.co/GIo6j7MRQX">pic.twitter.com/GIo6j7MRQX</a>
The Cardinals released Butler in February, with Mike Giardi of NFL Network reporting he "has been working out diligently." That signaled his intention to return to the league.
Butler's release from the Tennessee Titans following the 2020 season showed how his performance had dropped a bit from his best years with the New England Patriots. He was a Pro Bowler with New England in 2015 then had four interceptions and 17 pass breakups in 2016.
In his last year with Tennessee, Butler finished with 100 tackles, four interceptions and 14 breakups.
The Texans won four games in 2021 without Deshaun Watson on the field, and his departure this offseason would confirm Houston is staring down a rebuild. Taking a flier on Butler would make sense for a franchise with little to lose.
Texans general manager Nick Caserio was also the Patriots' director of player personnel when New England signed Butler as an undrafted free agent in 2014. The two will already have some familiarity.
Between that and the likelihood of playing a big role in the secondary, Houston would be a good landing spot for the experienced defensive back.