A subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason, Butler was uncertain to report to the Patriots immediately in the offseason. However, with the draft passing by without Butler being dealt elsewhere, it appears that the cornerback is now locked in with the Patriots for at least the 2017 season. Butler and offseason pickup Stephon Gilmore should combine to form one of the league's strongest cornerback tandems.
Butler was a restricted free agent and visited the Saints last month to discuss terms on a long-term deal. Despite the player and team apparently reaching an agreement, the Pats' trade demands have since cooled New Orleans' interest in completing a transaction. After Butler signed his one-year, $3.91 million tender last week, though, he's now under contract with New England for this season, thus enabling the team to trade him if another club is willing to surrender the assets they're seeking in return. If, as it currently appears, that doesn't come to fruition, the Patriots now have the enviable fall-back plan of trotting out Butler and fellow Pro-Bowler Stephon Gilmore as their starting cornerback duo.
While Butler is now under contract with the Patriots for the coming season, it's not out of the question that he could be traded leading up to, or during, the NFL Draft later this month. The Saints remain a possibility on that front. If Butler, who joined the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2014, stays put, he'd combine with newcomer Stephon Gilmore to form a quality cornerback combo in the team's secondary. Butler is coming off a 2016 campaign in which he recorded 63 tackles and four picks.
Butler visited the Saints a couple weeks ago to gauge their interest in him as a restricted free agent. Although the parties were unable to strike a deal, Butler's future is complicated by the fact that the Patriots placed a first-round tender on him. That enables New England to match any offer extended to Butler, or receive a first-round pick should they opt not to. Because of those stipulations, a trade seemed to be Butler's most likely route of departure, but Kraft's comments Monday suggest the cornerback could stick around. After signing Stephon Gilmore to a $65 million contract this offseason, the Patriots have a ready-made replacement for Butler, but potentially retaining him on a $3.91 million tender would nonetheless represent excellent value for this season's defense.
Butler is slated to visit the Saints on Thursday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.
The Patriots have placed a first-round tender (worth $3.91 million) on Butler, a restricted free agent, thus allowing them the opportunity to match any offer sheet that the cornerback might receive. That said, both NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and ESPN's Mike Reiss envision a potential scenario in which Butler and the Saints strike some sort of deal that would then be facilitated and moved forward by a trade between New England and New Orleans. In his third season with the Patriots, Butler recorded 63 tackles and four picks in 2016. While the Patriots would presumably prefer to retain Butler for the right price, the big money addition of fellow cornerback Stephon Gilmore does give the team some flexibility in dealing with Butler, who earned $600,00 this past season.
|P2||8/19/17||@ HOU||8:00 pm|
|P3||8/25/17||@ DET||7:00 pm|
|2||9/17/17||@ NO||1:00 pm|
|5||10/5/17||@ TB||8:25 pm|
|6||10/15/17||@ NYJ||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 9|
|10||11/12/17||@ DEN||8:30 pm|
|11||11/19/17||@ OAK||4:25 pm|
|13||12/3/17||@ BUF||1:00 pm|
|14||12/11/17||@ MIA||8:30 pm|
|15||12/17/17||@ PIT||4:25 pm|
|2014||New England Patriots||11||15||14.0||1||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||3|
|2015||New England Patriots||16||67||56.0||11||0||2||9||4.5||9||0||15|
|2016||New England Patriots||16||63||48.0||15||1||4||28||7.0||21||0||17|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2014||New England Patriots||11||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|2015||New England Patriots||16||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|2016||New England Patriots||16||0||0||1||0||2||2||2||0|