Sean Payton: Saints won't give the Patriots the No. 11 pick for Malcolm Butler
Butler still hasn't signed his first-round tender with the Patriots
The Saints’ top first-round pick in this year’s draft won’t be heading to New England.
“We had a chance to visit with him,” Payton said, according to the Times-Picayune. “Currently, to my understanding, he hasn’t signed his tender. It was just that. We can sign him to an offer sheet, but I don’t think we’re going to do that and give up the 11 pick.
“In fact, I know we’re not going to do that. It’s kind of it what it is right now.”
That makes sense. The Patriots tagged Butler with a first-round tender, which means if another team like the Saints signs him, they’ll owe the Patriots a first-round pick if the Patriots choose not to match their offer. Butler -- the Patriots’ top cornerback since his miraculous goal-line interception in Super Bowl XLIX -- is a good, young player, but he’s probably not worth the 11th overall pick AND a lucrative contract, which is what he reportedly wants. According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, Butler wants to be paid like a top-10 cornerback.
But if Butler signs his tender with the Patriots then he could potentially be moved in a sign-and-trade move that doesn’t involve a first-round pick (if the Patriots are willing to move him for a lower cost, of course). As Larry Holder of the Times-Picayune wrote, Payton “acknowledged” that if the Saints made a deal to acquire Butler, it would be a sign and trade.
Butler already visited New Orleans earlier this month, the Saints are in dire need of defensive help, and the two teams already worked out a deal involving Brandin Cooks. In 2016, Butler snagged four picks and ranked as Pro Football Focus’ fifth-best cornerback, allowing a 78.2 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks. So, given all of that, don’t rule out the possibility of something getting done in the future.
“For us, it was a chance to meet him, put him on the board, find out how much football he knows,” Payton said of Butler’s visit. “He’s from Mississippi, and I think it was good stuff.”
Butler’s deadline to sign the tender is April 21. If he does that, the Patriots and Saints can begin talking about a trade. Just don’t expect the Patriots to give up Butler for a cheap return.
“I’m rooting -- I hope he’s with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said on Monday, per NESN. “I have a great affection for him, and he actually was part of probably the greatest play in the history of our team. But there are a lot of people involved in that on both sides.”
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