New England Patriots trade rumors have the team a step closer to making a deal with the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are interested in cornerback Malcolm Butler but didn’t want to sign him in free agency. Butler was a restricted free agent, meaning any deal that another team offered could be matched by the Patriots. Now he has signed an RFA tender with the Patriots, putting him under contract and making him available for general manager Bill Belichick to trade.
A report by the Boston Globe covered Malcolm Butler’s meeting with the New Orleans Saints in mid-March. The meeting went well, but Butler ended up leaving New Orleans without a deal in place. Saints head coach Sean Payton would talk well of Butler later, but would soon reveal that the team would possibly be exploring other ways of acquiring the Super Bowl winning cornerback. That was where the New England Patriots trade rumors got started, with the team possibly looking to deal him for a pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Malcolm Butler’s contract is now a one-year deal, worth $3.91 million for the 2017 NFL season. Once the season has ended, Butler will then become an unrestricted free agent, capable of signing with a team of his choosing. Until that point, the Patriots can trade Butler to any team, including a Saints franchise looking to improve its defense.
The 27-year-old cornerback has been with the Patriots for his first three NFL seasons, posting 149 total tackles, six interceptions, two fumble recoveries, 38 pass deflections, and a sack during that time. Butler is best known for his interception of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in the Super Bowl. The 2016 season may have been his statistical best, as he helped the team win another Super Bowl, this time against the Atlanta Falcons.
Many NFL trade rumors mention that Malcolm Butler would be available this offseason when the Patriots didn’t immediately sign him to a contract extension. He became a restricted free agent but didn’t receive an expected offer from the open market. New Orleans Saints rumors had indicated a definite interest in acquiring him, but as reported, the team didn’t come to terms on a deal. That could change soon.
While these latest New England Patriots trade rumors surely indicate a deal could get done, it isn’t likely to include a first-round draft pick coming back from the New Orleans Saints. The Saints already own the first-round selection of the Patriots, acquiring it in a deal for receiver Brandin Cooks earlier in the offseason. The Saints also have the No. 11 overall selection, giving the team a chance to improve in the short-term, possibly by adding the top tight end available.
The Saints have two third-round picks, but then no selections in the fourth or fifth rounds. Would the Patriots accept a deal that included a sixth-round pick in exchange for Malcolm Butler? That might give him a lot of incentive to play well in the 2017 NFL season, as it could be viewed as an insult by most players in the league. Any veteran player getting dealt for a late-round draft pick might decide to take it personally. An easier scenario would be the Saints giving up a third-rounder, but also getting back another pick in the deal.
The New Orleans Saints have been very active this offseason, looking to put more talent on the roster as Drew Brees plays out one of his final seasons with the team. Dealing Brandin Cooks was a way to help improve the team through the 2017 NFL Draft, but it still doesn’t help improve the team on the defensive side of the ball. From that view, these latest New England Patriots trade rumors make perfect sense, as Malcolm Butler is the type of player who could help elevate another team.
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