It’s one thing to connect dots and jam cornerback Malcolm Butler into the lingering possibility of a trade that would bring Brandin Cooks from New Orleans to New England. It’s another to actually make it happen.
One source with direct knowledge of the process called it “complex.” For starters, Butler can’t be traded until he signs his one-year, $3.91 million restricted free agency tender. If he doesn’t want to be traded to the Saints or elsewhere, why sign the tender?
One thing that could make him inclined to sign the tender would be a trade to a team that will give him the kind of long-term deal he has wanted ever since he jumped the route and went from barely-known defensive back to NFL household name.
It appears that the Patriots are indeed choosing Stephon Gilmore over Butler, if not for this year then for the long haul. Where it all goes from here remains to be seen, and hinges in large part of what Butler wants.