Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that Patriots restricted free agent CB Malcolm Butler has received interest from several teams. According to Howe, it wouldn’t be surprising to see action pick up this week involving Butler.
Howe adds that he was given a “strong indication” that 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.
Last night, Mike Giardi reported 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.
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.
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.
Butler’s name actually 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.
We’ll have more regarding Butler and the Patriots as the news is available.