Ian Rapoport reports that the Saints and Patriots restricted free agent CB Malcolm Butler have begun contract negotiations and are hoping to have a deal in place at some point this week. From there, Rapoport says that the Saints will start trade talks with the Patriots.
Ben Volin mentions that he would be shock to see the Patriots trade Butler for anything less than a first-round pick, which makes sense, considering that they used a first-round tender on him last week.
If the Patriots lost Butler as a free agent next year, they would recoup a third-round pick, so they’re clearly going to be looking for better compensation than that in return for Butler.
New Orleans has both the No. 11 and No. 32 overall picks, so it’s possible they could try to work something out for the Patriots former first-rounder.
Payton added that they hold Butler in “high regard” and are eager to meet with him this week.
Meanwhile, Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports reports that the Texans also have interest in Butler and would be willing to trade the Patriots a second-round pick if they can get Butler signed to a long-term deal.
- Yesterday, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reported that Butler has received interest from several teams and it wouldn’t be surprising to see action pick up this week involving Butler.
- Howe did, however, add that he was given a “strong indication” Butler prefers to remain in New England and be a “Patriot for life.“
- Last year, the Patriots were offering Butler around $6-$7 million annually in an extension, but was hoping to be paid as a top-10 cornerback, according to Howe. New England reportedly told Butler last season that they wouldn’t pay a cornerback more than $10 million per year, which explains why the news of them signing Stephon Gilmore to a massive contract came as such a surprise to Butler, per Howe.
- A separate report from Mike Giardi mentioned that Butler and his camp are “extremely frustrated” by the Patriots’ position and the decision to sign Gilmore, which is why they’re courting offers with other teams. According to Giardi, Butler “wants new home.”
- Jason La Canfora also reported that Butler’s agent is contacting teams in an attempt to find one willing to part with a first-round pick sign his client to an offer sheet.
- La Canfora mentions that the Patriots would be fine collecting a first-round pick and allowing Butler to move on, especially now that they traded their round one selection to the Saints for WR Brandin Cooks.
While Butler’s a great player, it could be tough to find a team willing to part with a first-round pick and sign him to a long-term extension. Butler is believed to be seeking a similar contract to the five-year, $65 million deal with $31 million fully guaranteed Gilmore just got from the Patriots.
A trade probably makes the most sense, assuming the Saints sign Butler to an offer sheet in the coming days. This would prevent the Saints from parting with their No. 11 overall pick and they could instead negotiate more reasonable compensation for Butler.
Butler’s name reportedly came up in trade talks with the Saints, but given that he has yet to sign his restricted tender, he could be included in the deal. Although, Adam Schefter of ESPN later reported that there is still a chance that the Saints and Patriots still could discuss a trade later on Butler.
The Patriots placed a first-round tender on Butler a few days ago that will cost them $3.91 million for the 2017 season and net them a first-round pick if he receives an offer sheet from another team and they elect to pass on matching it.
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.
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.