Sean Payton: Saints won't give the Patriots the No. 11 pick for Malcolm Butler

If Malcolm Butler joins the Saints this offseason, the Patriots won’t be getting the 11th overall pick in return. On Wednesday, at the NFL owners meetings, Sean Payton made that much clear.

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.”

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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