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Patriots, Saints supposedly won’t talk about a trade for Malcolm Butler

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Not long ago, the Patriots reportedly were considering adding cornerback Malcolm Butler to the trade package that brought receiver Brandin Cooks from New Orleans to New England. It didn’t happen, due in large part to the fact that Cooks was due to earn a $780,000 roster bonus last Monday, leaving precious little time to piece everything together.

The process of piecing everything together has continued beyond the completion of the Cooks trade, with the Saints hosting Butler on Thursday and reportedly putting the parameters of a long-term deal in place. But, supposedly, this doesn’t mean that the Patriots will trade Butler to the Saints.

Supposedly.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media suggests that the Patriots have had no talks with the Saints on a possible Butler trade, and that the Patriots won’t until he signs his restricted free agency tender. While there’s no reason to doubt the fact that someone in the know is telling this to Rapoport, it feels like an effort to avoid any claim that the Patriots didn’t apply the RFA tender to Butler with a good-faith intention to employ him for 2017 at the amount of the tender offer. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has shown extreme sensitivity to this requirement of the labor deal in the past, and Belichick likely is tiptoeing on those same eggshells now.

So it all has to happen discreetly, with the Saints and Patriots winking and nodding and Butler signing the RFA tender knowing that the Patriots will follow through on a trade for something less than the 11th overall pick in the draft, which is what they’d get if the Saints sign Butler to an offer sheet the Patriots don’t match.

It makes sense for the Saints to offer the No. 32 pick in round one, obtained from the Patriots for Cooks, to the Patriots for Butler. It makes no sense for the Saints to send the No. 11 pick to the Patriots for Butler. Before doing that, the Saints should work out a deal with one of the teams near the bottom of round one, with the understanding being that one of those teams would sign Butler to an offer sheet that the Patriots wouldn’t match, acquire Butler for the low first-round pick, and then trade Butler plus something more to the Saints for the No. 11 pick. The Saints would still lose the No. 11 pick, but they’d get something in return from a team in the high 20s/low 30s that slides up nearly 20 spots in round one.

Whatever the Saints would get via that approach, they’d end up with something more than simply signing Butler to an offer sheet and giving up the No. 11 pick. Which underscores the fact that it makes no sense to sign Butler to an offer sheet.

Alternatively, the Saints and Patriots can simply work out a trade for Butler quietly and carefully, while telling anyone in the media who’ll listen that they aren’t and won’t be talking about a trade. Our guess is that this is what’s exactly going on.

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66 Responses to “Patriots, Saints supposedly won’t talk about a trade for Malcolm Butler”
  1. mrkbuilders says: Mar 20, 2017 9:01 PM

    Great move to keep all the leverage!

  2. dsigrey says: Mar 20, 2017 9:06 PM

    It makes no sense for the Pats to tske anything less than the 11th pick. If Butler wants 10-14 million than that’s what an 11th pick woukd cost them.

  3. saintdatazz says: Mar 20, 2017 9:09 PM

    Don’t sign him. Do you not remember browner. Just like him and all other patties that leave, they are system guys. NO’s system on defense, we’ll I am not sure about system but something tells me he will not do good. It’s just like all the receivers that leave the saints, it’s a system and they don’t fair well once they leave.

  4. tedmurph says: Mar 20, 2017 9:09 PM

    Please. Belichick has to do everything by the letter of the law or the league will be up his butt. Even the competition committee is trying to make their annual Patriots rule change. They don’t want players jumping the line on FG attempts. They say it’s for player safety, not because the Pats had success with it.

  5. A happy green parrot says: Mar 20, 2017 9:12 PM

    They cant. These two guys need to be crazy careful here to stay everywhere within the rules. These coaches are two well known Goodell targets and there is no reason to think he wouldnt hit them again if he got an inkling of a chance. Given the Patriots came off the Deflategate punishment to win a Superbowl and then improve the team to be an immediate favorite to do it again you have to figure other owners have been contacting Goodell to tell him he failed on his first try and to come up with something again to this job done.

  6. lgw91s says: Mar 20, 2017 9:13 PM

    This is a first. Bill Belichick not giving full disclosure to the media. Imagine!

  7. eljefedelmundo says: Mar 20, 2017 9:16 PM

    Involving a THIRD team is insane!

    It’ll be 1/32 or even less to the Pats.

    Butler will not be coming cheap…

  8. jontarbox says: Mar 20, 2017 9:19 PM

    Usually I’m with the “In Bill we Trust” but I just don’t want to lose Butler ….I think it would be a mistake

  9. deneb1973 says: Mar 20, 2017 9:20 PM

    Butler should savor the feeling of power (however erroneous it is). He will pay in later years as the GMs he has tweaked by not signing his tender are among the most powerful power brokers in the NFL. Butler should fire his agent who is doing him a tremendous disservice by having Butler stall. If Butler winds up playing for the Patriots because the trade falls through he will understand the idiocy of playing this game with BB. Butler will be at injury risk in a season when he has offended his coaches. I doubt he will ever recover the money he will lose by his childish game.

  10. grogansheroes says: Mar 20, 2017 9:21 PM

    I don’t know why the Saints do not want to pay a 780,000 bonus. That is chump change in the NFL. So instead you trade a player for less than he’s worth?

  11. greeksensation says: Mar 20, 2017 9:22 PM

    Oh you mean the Pats don’t want both 1st round picks?!?! Give the media a week to speculate on it…

  12. terripet says: Mar 20, 2017 9:23 PM

    Pittsburgh should give up ther NUMBER 1 for him

  13. nufcedmcgreevey says: Mar 20, 2017 9:27 PM

    This article makes zero sense. Saints would not be talking with butler if they didn’t have a trade worked out. Why waste their time. Saints are giving back the 32nd and probably another mid round pick. Pretty good haul for an undrafted FA.

  14. jjb0811 says: Mar 20, 2017 9:32 PM

    What are the odds that the perennial 7-9 Aints out smart BB?

  15. pftfan1 says: Mar 20, 2017 9:43 PM

    “Before doing that, the Saints should work out a deal with one of the teams near the bottom of round one, with the understanding being that one of those teams would sign Butler to an offer sheet that the Patriots wouldn’t match, acquire Butler for the low first-round pick, and then trade Butler plus something more to the Saints for the No. 11 pick. The Saints would still lose the No. 11 pick, but they’d get something in return from a team in the high 20s/low 30s that slides up nearly 20 spots in round one.”

    *****

    Why would the Saints have to ship #11 in this scenario? Say they get the Falcons to sign Butler to an offer sheet. Falcons lose #31 and get Butler. They then trade Butler for the Saints’ #32. The net impact to the Falcons is moving down from #31 to #32, so Saints would have to accommodate for that marginally + say a service fee (e.g. swap an early round pick for a later round pick), but they wouldn’t have to part with #11.

    Someone please explain if I’m missing something.

  16. angrygumby says: Mar 20, 2017 9:46 PM

    …so clearly, I cannot choose the glass in front of me!

  17. patfic5 says: Mar 20, 2017 9:47 PM

    This was figured out as soon as Butler was mentioned in talks. Just working on the $$$$. 32 goes back to Pats. It’s not that hard.

  18. tylawspick6 says: Mar 20, 2017 9:47 PM

    arrest, try and convict roger goodell

  19. dickgazinya says: Mar 20, 2017 9:49 PM

    Butler is overrated

  20. kissbillsrings says: Mar 20, 2017 9:50 PM

    Here we go…..feeding the Trolls….
    Why don’t we all just sit back & wait to see what plays out….
    Pats WON’T do anything with Butler until he signs his tender…..the way Roger & the league have it out for ANYTHING that can be TWISTED into something it’s not & punish the Patriots somehow…..my guess this time it would be them going after BB this time…..& draft picks & fines of course…. We all know the routine all to well…..
    With the way all this is being painted & portrayed by the press in the form of some propriety of wrongdoing it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Butler in a Patriots uniform this season & either franchised/extended or allowed to walk after the season for probably a 3rd round comp pick in 2019

  21. pastabelly says: Mar 20, 2017 9:55 PM

    Ted Wells is already on this one.

  22. rpkllc says: Mar 20, 2017 10:16 PM

    Please dont give up #11 for this dood.

  23. pardonmyjake says: Mar 20, 2017 10:17 PM

    keep him 4 one more year at the 3.91 million tender

  24. nolasoxfan2012 says: Mar 20, 2017 10:22 PM

    Why should the Patriots make a trade and only get back their own 32nd pick? I just don’t see any reason for them to do that. Literally every team in the league (including New Orleans) would have to give up a better pick than that if they just signed him as an RFA. If he signs the RFA tender and goes back to New England, it’s at $3.9M next year plus the 3rd round comp pick the year after (assuming he leaves in 2018). The only plus to sending him to New Orleans is that it moves him out of the conference and would be better than, say, Texas signing him. But, even Texas would be giving up the 25th pick, a big upgrade from 32. Again, why should the Pats do this deal?

  25. naes says: Mar 20, 2017 10:24 PM

    You don’t need the other team to sign Butler. In fact that wouldn’t work.

    What they need to do is just swap picks with a team in the 20’s. The Pats will get the lower draft pick when Butler signs with the Saints.

    If the third party team signs Butler they will be on the hook for the signing bonus and it will hurt them when they trade Butler. If there’s no signing bonus in the contract the Pats can sign Butler and cut him after rosters are set in the Fall and sign him back.

  26. Mike Florio says: Mar 20, 2017 10:28 PM

    1. Teams can only use their original pick for a player signed to an offer sheet that carries draft compensation. So the Saints can’t trade down to the 20s and then sign Butler to an offer sheet.

    2. The contract can easily be structured to delay the bonus money long enough to allow for a trade.

  27. Mike Florio says: Mar 20, 2017 10:30 PM

    He’s not under contract and can withhold services. That’s his only real leverage.

  28. kissbillsrings says: Mar 20, 2017 10:39 PM

    angrygumby says:
    Mar 20, 2017 9:46 PM
    …so clearly, I cannot choose the glass in front of me!
    _________________________

    LOL…. Classic!!!
    Loved that movie….so many great lines….. You picked one of the most appropriate !!!
    CHEERS!!!

  29. h says: Mar 20, 2017 10:43 PM

    Butler will be in a Patriots uniform this year. Obviously the Pats are all in this year and Butler knows that. He’ll sign a decent team friendly 2-3 year contract for lifetime security. He is young enough to play that out and talented enough to cash in with a mega deal after that..

  30. pftfan1 says: Mar 20, 2017 10:44 PM

    “1. Teams can only use their original pick for a player signed to an offer sheet that carries draft compensation.”

    OK so the Saints would HAVE to use #11 to trade with a team that acquired Butler through an offer sheet at the bottom of the first round, they couldn’t use #32… Thanks Mike.

  31. rootpain says: Mar 20, 2017 11:03 PM

    Stop bellyaching just cause Belichick and Payton have absolutely no intention of including you in their loop. It won’t happen. Not today. Not anytime. Get over yourself.

  32. fndraiser says: Mar 20, 2017 11:41 PM

    Butlers agent is out of his league .

    Right now only one team is interested in him, next year there would be at least 5-6 teams interested in him. the price would be a whole lot more in overall compensation and most importantly guaranteed money.

    Butler will be paying for that first round draft pick next year not the Saints

  33. johnclaytonsponytail says: Mar 20, 2017 11:49 PM

    Patriots fans……. Saints ARE NOT giving up a top 11 pick for an undrafted system CB. Get that idea out of your heads. 32 IMO is too high so y’all should be happy if you get your 32 back.

  34. deacon85 says: Mar 21, 2017 12:08 AM

    “…winking and nodding…”? The Patriots know that Goodell and a cabal of owners would do anything to try to accuse the Patriots of cheating, so it’s not going to happen this way. If Butler signs his tender, fine, then they could trade him. But there’s no way that the Patriots are colluding with the Saints to get around the RFA rules. The Patriots are held to a higher standard, it’s as simple as that. 345 Park Ave. has a vendetta against the Patriots, so they have to watch their backs.

  35. moodyponders says: Mar 21, 2017 12:27 AM

    As an unrestricted free agent, he IS under contract and any one who gets him has to honor that agreement according to the CBA. He can hold out, but he will only get 3.9M if the pats don’t release. If he holds out, he hurts himself, not the team. he’s already been replaced. As many have said before, his agent is a gold digging idiot.

  36. amadorcountyca says: Mar 21, 2017 1:05 AM

    The Gilmore signing was a heck of a shot across Butler’s bow,which was a RFA and not UFA.

    Butler woke up last Thursday of free agency with a smack of reality.

    Stay with the Pats at $3.98 mill with injury insurance and you are going to get Gilmore money in 12 months.

    Why crawl to NO bad defense at a below market contract.

  37. ribeastie says: Mar 21, 2017 1:13 AM

    Butler should just play this year and then he can earn the big bucks when he is a UFA. He may have leverage and hold out but then he tarnishes his reputation if its not already tarnished. There are other members on that team that give their heart and soul, are more important, and make less money. You don’t see them whining. Butler should be grateful.

  38. ribeastie says: Mar 21, 2017 1:16 AM

    Maybe the movie deal and commercial has gone to Butlers head. SMH

  39. jim9889 says: Mar 21, 2017 3:55 AM

    Sean knows Bill. If Bill wants to unload Butler and Seans getting first crack at him…Sean is playing hard shrewd negotiating otherwise this parley/deal would be splashed as one of your headlines Mile F

  40. footballisnotthatimportant says: Mar 21, 2017 5:30 AM

    Average cornerback who will feel the “Byron Maxwell” effect once he goes to another system.

  41. thelastwordyaheard says: Mar 21, 2017 6:27 AM

    This is being played horribly by all involved (except The Hoodie, of course)

  42. dpdonny says: Mar 21, 2017 7:16 AM

    Deals with this many levels of details rarely go through.

  43. sb44champs says: Mar 21, 2017 8:09 AM

    I don’t know why the Saints do not want to pay a 780,000 bonus. That is chump change in the NFL. So instead you trade a player for less than he’s worth?
    ==============================
    Cooks was going to be traded one way or the other so why not do it early and save close to a million bucks. Also, Saints were able to land a 1st round pick and turn a 4th rounder into a 3rd rounder… I’d argue that is fair compensation for Cooks…

  44. superpatriotsfan says: Mar 21, 2017 8:30 AM

    One play wonder CB who Pats fans think is the next HOFer. Typical Pats homers, not all Patriots are the best players, just good at cheating!

  45. gtrav says: Mar 21, 2017 8:49 AM

    11th pick or no deal….#32 isn’t gonna cut it.

  46. captainwhodat says: Mar 21, 2017 9:14 AM

    What are the odds that the perennial 7-9 Aints out smart BB…not a Pats fan, but Loomis play checkers badly, and BB is a world champion chess player…

  47. harrisonhits2 says: Mar 21, 2017 9:18 AM

    “You don’t need the other team to sign Butler. In fact that wouldn’t work.

    What they need to do is just swap picks with a team in the 20’s. The Pats will get the lower draft pick when Butler signs with the Saints.”

    You don’t understand how being a restricted FA works. No other team can sign Butler. They have to make an offer sheet. The Pats can match it or get the Saints first round pick #11.

    If the Pats refuse to match the offer the Saints can try to get the to negotiate for a different package of picks, but the Pats don’t have to take it. But per the way the RFA rules are written, as it stands now the Pats would get the #11 overall pick for Butler.

    Other teams are also allowed to make an offer sheet to Butler, but you can’t just have a 3rd team involved in the transaction. Any other team would have the same formula. Make Butler an offer, if the Pats refuse they get that team’s 1st rounder.

  48. saints12013 says: Mar 21, 2017 9:43 AM

    I’d rather keep the 2 1st rounders and to heck with Butler. He isn’t anywhere near worth a 1st round pick.

    Draft a pass rusher at 11.
    Draft a CB at 32 unless the TE from Alabama is there still then you draft him.

  49. bullcharger says: Mar 21, 2017 9:44 AM

    Or they just keep Butler and match the deal that the saints offer if one comes at all.

    If no offers come in then the Patriots can try to extend him again to keep him happy.

  50. pawpaw46 says: Mar 21, 2017 10:00 AM

    Saints aren’t giving up the #11 pick. What’s to keep them from making that 11th pick and then making the trade using the 32 ?

  51. rob471773 says: Mar 21, 2017 10:00 AM

    superpatriotsfan says:

    Mar 21, 2017 8:30 AM

    One play wonder CB who Pats fans think is the next HOFer. Typical Pats homers, not all Patriots are the best players, just good at cheating!
    ——————
    Butler is easily a top 10 CB right now by every measurable CB metric, any NFL scout would probably have him ranked as a top 10 of corner.

  52. lengai says: Mar 21, 2017 10:14 AM

    How about forget about him and use your 2 1st round picks.

  53. dvdman123 says: Mar 21, 2017 10:40 AM

    People who say Butler should just sign his tender and play out the season in New England just don’t get it. What if he blows a knee ? Why should he stay in NE? They obviously don’t value him if they signed a FA off the street and paid him the big bucks. He has NOTHING to earn or prove in NE, he’s got his rings. Why not move on and earn the big bucks now in N.O.?!?!!? I don’t blame the young man one bit if he left and I bet they’d appreciate him more in N.O.

  54. greggallmansliver says: Mar 21, 2017 10:55 AM

    johnclaytonsponytail says:
    Mar 20, 2017 11:49 PM
    Patriots fans……. Saints ARE NOT giving up a top 11 pick for an undrafted system CB. Get that idea out of your heads. 32 IMO is too high so y’all should be happy if you get your 32 back.
    ___________________________________

    Leverage dude, leverage. Saint’s aint got none in this situation. NONE.

  55. dryden74 says: Mar 21, 2017 11:09 AM

    That’s why you have insurance, dvdman. Sign the tender, Butler!

  56. maust1013 says: Mar 21, 2017 11:19 AM

    Normally in a non-trade trade discussion you’d expect the agent to facillitate getting it done since he actually can talk to both sides. Of course that would involve a certain level of trust between the teams and the agent. Safe to say Butler’s non-agent agent probably doesn’t enjoy that type of relationship with any team.

  57. davedsone says: Mar 21, 2017 11:32 AM

    saintdatazz says:
    Mar 20, 2017 9:09 PM
    Don’t sign him. Do you not remember browner. Just like him and all other patties that leave, they are system guys. NO’s system on defense, we’ll I am not sure about system but something tells me he will not do good. It’s just like all the receivers that leave the saints, it’s a system and they don’t fair well once they leave.

    ____________________________________

    Clearly, you don’t watch Butler play. The “system” you speak of has trouble producing good corners, and you can point to Talib who does better in Denver than he did with the Pats for evidence. Butler is not one of the top 5 corners in the league, but I’d put him at 7 or 8th best for sure.

  58. kenberthiaume says: Mar 21, 2017 11:32 AM

    People who say Butler should just sign his tender and play out the season in New England just don’t get it. What if he blows a knee ? Why should he stay in NE? They obviously don’t value him if they signed a FA off the street and paid him the big bucks. He has NOTHING to earn or prove in NE, he’s got his rings. Why not move on and earn the big bucks now in N.O.?!?!!? I don’t blame the young man one bit if he left and I bet they’d appreciate him more in N.O.
    ——
    he can’t get traded until he signs the tender. If he doesn’t and skips the year, this whole thing repeats itself.

  59. wib22 says: Mar 21, 2017 11:36 AM

    One play wonder CB who Pats fans think is the next HOFer. Typical Pats homers, not all Patriots are the best players, just good at cheating!

    *****

    Butler is better than maxwell or the other dreck on the dolphins chippy.

  60. madddogg365 says: Mar 21, 2017 12:34 PM

    The Saints organization only tells you what they want you to know…until it gets leaked…then they have to come clean. The same will eventually happen here.

  61. madddogg365 says: Mar 21, 2017 1:13 PM

    davedsone says:
    Mar 21, 2017 11:32 AM
    saintdatazz says:
    Mar 20, 2017 9:09 PM
    Don’t sign him. Do you not remember browner. Just like him and all other patties that leave, they are system guys. NO’s system on defense, we’ll I am not sure about system but something tells me he will not do good. It’s just like all the receivers that leave the saints, it’s a system and they don’t fair well once they leave.

    ____________________________________

    Clearly, you don’t watch Butler play. The “system” you speak of has trouble producing good corners, and you can point to Talib who does better in Denver than he did with the Pats for evidence. Butler is not one of the top 5 corners in the league, but I’d put him at 7 or 8th
    best for sure.

    Wasn’t Jarius Byrd the #1 free agent the year the Saints signed him & a 2 time Pro Bowler & 1 of the best safeties in NFL at that time? You’re welcome………………..

  62. skeetinonyomamasface says: Mar 21, 2017 1:45 PM

    “Leverage dude, leverage. Saint’s aint got none in this situation. NONE.”

    Actually, they do; they know that Butler is unlikely to be a Patriot beyond 2017 (I don’t see the Pats spending $25M+ per year for a pair of corners), so New England can get a low 1st round or high 2nd round pick for him now instead of letting him walk and getting only a comp pick for him. We all know how adept Belichick is at keeping his eye on the future and looking at things in the long term. Just a thought.

  63. mistrezzrachael says: Mar 21, 2017 5:23 PM

    johnclaytonsponytail says:
    Mar 20, 2017 11:49 PM
    Patriots fans……. Saints ARE NOT giving up a top 11 pick for an undrafted system CB. Get that idea out of your heads. 32 IMO is too high so y’all should be happy if you get your 32 back.

    Then don’t take him then!!! That’s the NFL rule for compensation. Patriots will gladly keep him.

  64. rwhite151 says: Mar 21, 2017 9:02 PM

    Patriots will just keep Butler, why would they trade for the #32 pick? It’s #11 or he stays.

  65. intentionallywidenberg says: Mar 23, 2017 12:30 AM

    saintdatazz says:
    Mar 20, 2017 9:09 PM
    Don’t sign him. Do you not remember browner. Just like him and all other patties that leave, they are system guys. NO’s system on defense, we’ll I am not sure about system but something tells me he will not do good.
    —————————————————
    Browner was a Seattle guy – he WAS a system guy, and that system was physical man coverage – beat up your guy and hope that the refs won’t flag everything. He’s only effective in that role.
    Butler is the real deal. He plays a more traditional cover role at a high level. He’s got a good shot at repeating his success if he moves to another team.

  66. mellimac says: Mar 23, 2017 6:36 PM

    I like Butler, beyond his INT in SB, his grit and tenacity are worth it. Too often I see CB bail when staring down a TE. Butler throws himself into over matched situations. And he gets mightily upset if his receiver gets the ball. He doesn’t get beat often.
    The only knock I see is his adaptability….he is slow to adjust. But other than that, he is a baller. Never seen him mail in a game…

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