Ian Rapoport of NFL Media mentions that 2017 is expected to be CB Malcolm Butler‘s final season with the Patriots, as the team has already invested big money in Stephon Gilmore and are unlikely to use their franchise tag on Butler next year.
Rapoport adds that while the Patriots have made a number of offers to Butler over the years, they’re no longer negotiating with him and could instead be focused on recouping a compensatory pick in 2019 after he signs a free agent deal with another team.
During the offseason, the Saints showed serious interest in Butler as a restricted free agent, but ultimately declined to sign him to a tender or part with the kind of draft compensation it would have required to get him from the Patriots.
If Butler is, in fact, allowed to test the open market, he should have no trouble cashing in with another team.
Butler, 27, wound up signing on with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of West Alabama back in 2014. He played out the final year of his rookie contract before signing a one-year restricted tender worth $3.91 million for the 2017 season.
In 2016, Butler appeared in all 16 games for the Patriots and recorded 63 tackles, one sack, four interceptions, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and 17 pass defenses. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 7 cornerback out of 112 qualifying players.
We’ll have more regarding Butler and his future in New England as the news is available.