Saints, Patriots will tread lightly on Malcolm Butler deal

Getty Images

The Saints had wanted to obtain cornerback Malcolm Butler as part of the trade that sent receiver Brandin Cooks to New England, but the deal was too complicated to finalize quickly — especially with Cooks due to earn a $781,599 roster bonus on Monday.

The Saints are still courting Butler, and the process will continue with the Saints negotiating a contract with him.

Given the rules of restricted free agency, the Saints are permitted to negotiate with Butler, and eventually to sign him to an offer sheet. If the Patriots don’t match the offer within five days, the Patriots would get New Orleans’ first-round pick in the draft.

But the Saints surely don’t want to surrender the 11th overall pick in the draft for Butler. So if the Saints and Butler can strike a fair deal based on the fact that he’s currently not on the open market and wouldn’t be for a year, the Saints can then approach the Patriots and make an offer for something less than a first-round pick, subject to Butler signing the restricted free agency tender. If the Saints and Patriots reach an understanding, Butler would sign the tender, and the Patriots would trade him.

It needs to happen precisely that way because Patriots coach Bill Belichick is sensitive (some would say unreasonably) to the CBA rules regarding players to whom tender offers have been extended. A player can’t be tendered as a tool for trading him, and Belichick consistently refuses to enter into trade discussions about players who have not signed their tender offers.

Of course, there will be a point at which the Patriots and Saints will need to do some winking and nodding, so that the planets can properly align once Butler has signed the tender. But if the Saints are the ones who initiate the trade talks, Belichick will be more comfortable (or at least less uncomfortable) about working out a tentative trade before Butler signs the tender offer.

So, to summarize: (1) Saints negotiate with Butler; (2) if a tentative deal is reached, Saints approach Patriots; (3) if a tentative trade is reached, Butler signs tender; (4) Patriots sign Butler to multi-year deal and trade him or Patriots trade him and Saints sign him to multi-year deal.

57 responses to “Saints, Patriots will tread lightly on Malcolm Butler deal

  1. “If the Patriots don’t match the offer within five days, the Patriots would get New England’s first-round pick in the draft.”


  2. “If the Patriots don’t match the offer within five days, the Patriots would get New England’s first-round pick in the draft.”

    It’s just a typo. I’m guessing he meant New Orleans.

  3. Maybe they agree on the 32nd pick that NE already gave them for Cooks, but I can’t see NE letting Butler go for anything less than a high 2nd rounder.

  4. I just don’t know why NE wants to trade Butler in the first place? He sounds like the perfect Patriot he’s done everything they’ve always asked of him. Been ready at a moments notice to contribute.Bit hey, it’s the NE way. Who am I to judge?

  5. Why do I have the feeling that Roger is going to interfere with this deal somehow?

    Perhaps make a statement about the deal being bogus/behind the scenes, etc.

    I know that my fear has no basis, but…

  6. I don’t see the upside in moving Butler. They have decent corners, but with Butler it might be the best secondary in the league.

  7. Butler wants Free Agent money as a restricted free agent.

    That’s not going to happen.

    If he wants to give a bit he can get some guaranteed millions now by signing an extension – but not as much as if he were a UFA

    As far as what the Pats get in a trade, #11 isn’t far off the mark. The Pats can keep him for $3 mil and have an outstanding secondary. If he still doesn’t sign they can drop him back to about $600k – but Butler won’t be able to sign with another team.

    So both the Saints and Butler need to give a little – and give a lot to the Patriots – if Butler wants a new contract early.

  8. and cue the whining from other teams. This has to be cheating of some kind because the Patriots and the Saints are involved with it. I mean let’s face it Rog said both of them did something or other and that settled it……

  9. I don’t really get why the Patriots would trade him. I get that you’d like to get something for him before he leaves for nothing, but it’s also important to remember that this team has a 40 year old QB. His play could fall off at any time, so I would think they would want to go all out to get possibly one last ring before Brady retires/deteriorates.

    If they trade him I think it means they get worse in the secondary than last year because I think Butler is a little better than Gilmore (although it’s close), plus they lost Logan Ryan. Yes they’ll likely get a first round pick back, but what first round rookie is going to give the Pats a better shot at a championship this year than keeping Butler would?

  10. 1) Saints negotiate with Butler, reach tentative agreement.

    2) Saints negotiate with Patriots, reach tentative agreement.

    3) Butler signs tender.

    4) Belichick, “lol, see you in camp Butler.”

  11. O man wink and nods being exchanged between saints and pats? Big fines, suspensions, and draft pick forfeitures looming.

  12. Maybe I’m confused…but what do the Patriots have to gain by striking a trade? Unless they really want to lose Malcolm Butler?

    If they don’t offer the trade and NO signs him to an offer sheet, they get the 11th pick. If that’s too high for NO then they won’t offer Butler an offer sheet and NE keeps him. Why agree to a trade that gets them #32?

  13. There is no upside for the Patriots to trade Butler this year. Gilmore is good, but Butler is better. Gilmore has also missed 12 games in just 5 seasons.

    Now the Goodell issue…

    Goodell punished NO for Bullygate, which we now know never occurred.

    Goodell punished NE for Deflategate, which we knew never occurred right from the start. He also punished NE for Spygate, even though what NE was doing wasn’t against the rules until the following year.

    Think Lyin’ Roger will make up new rules as he goes along?

  14. .
    I am at a loss to figure out how the relationship between Butler and the Patriots came to this. Former teammate Logan Ryan made less than 4 million over his first 4 years. However, he recently signed a 10 million dollar contract with the Titans as an UFA. The system may not be fair, but as Belichick always says, ” it is what it is” . If you come into the league as a free agent, you don’t make any real big money until your 5th year.

  15. SpyGate vs BountyGate…..

    What could possibly go wrong….

    But really, these two are about to stick it to the league on this one. Watch.

    Heard trump, has his wire tapping committee, qued.

  16. “It needs to happen precisely that way because Patriots coach Bill Belichick is sensitive (some would say unreasonably)…”

    And others would say that sensitivity is for a couple of very good reasons. It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you, Belichick is mindful that the league office does not treat equal transgressions equally. Belichick has a reputation for being tough but honest in his dealings with players. That is a valuable asset when dealing with prospective acquisitions that he would be careful to protect.

  17. Normally Belichick’s deals are off the radar when he initiates them. Every now and then, the rest of us can develop some form of understanding as the rumors start to circulate. But mostly our a-ha moments come after the details of the trade is announced. This is one of those situations.
    On the surface it seems the only thing Butler has done wrong was to hire an incompetent agent. And maybe that’s enough for Belichick. It’s will sure be fun to see how this plays out. Either way, unless Butler gets hurt, his money days are coming down the road.

  18. Belichick’s unspoken words on this matter………….. (insert word here) you Roger.

  19. Belichick adheres to the letter of the law? No way! I thought he was always bending rules!

    So much for the “there was a wink and a nod”.

    As for why the Patriots would trade him? Because 1st rounders or even 2nd rounders are nice and low salary and would probably yield a player as good or better than butler in time.
    They also get rid of a disgruntled player who thinks he’s underpaid/being taken advantage of.

  20. Goodell is a joke and needs to be fired.

    The fact that belichick is laughing in his face by following these rules shows that he’s great.

  21. Would prefer two capable cornerbacks instead of one whiny but gifted cornerback and some plug-ins while a local hero goes off to play for another team because…reasons?!?

  22. Brady can’t have that many years left. Go for another ring and don’t worry about the future.

  23. The Pats can keep Butler for a year, hope he isn’t disgruntled, and let him walk with nothing in return or they can try to flip him into a long(er) term asset. Neither choice is totally correct/totally wrong. It comes down to what sort of window of opportunity you’re dealing with.

  24. Butler has no leverage and NE has all of it.

    Butler’s choices as follows:

    a) Play in NE for the tender of 3.9 mil (and play really well so he can get his big contract next year)
    b) Get traded for compensation only if NE thinks it is better for them than option a
    c) Hold out in which case he gets nothing this year, is seen as a malcontent and ends up in exactly the same situation next year

  25. what do the Patriots have to gain by striking a trade?
    Same as Cooks/Saints… They don’t have to end up paying him Top 5 money at his position. Saints are stacked at WR and Patriots are stacked at CB so it makes since for both teams

  26. If Butler would just be grumbling might as well get rid of him. It could just be his agent, but he seems to be a malcontent. The grumbling has been going on for awhile. He still has a year in his contract. Might as well trade him and get an early first round pick.

  27. stirged says:
    Mar 14, 2017 2:00 PM
    1) Saints negotiate with Butler, reach tentative agreement.

    2) Saints negotiate with Patriots, reach tentative agreement.

    3) Butler signs tender.

    4) Belichick, “lol, see you in camp Butler.”
    Probably not. As a GM, you treat your trading partners with respect, or they stop giving you opportunities to trade. It sounds like BB is a pretty straight shooter in this way.

  28. Goodell is quickly jumping on a conference call with Jerrah, Mara, Rooney, Irsay, Woody Johnson and Bisciotti to concoct how some way, somehow this has to be cheating.

    Jeff Pash is ready to stay up all night “wordsmithing” some kind of a lost rule that hasn’t been updated since 1973 in the Constitution and Bylaws.


  29. as usual (as in Garrapolo to the Browns), BB holds all the cards…not a fan, but sure is smart…


    If someone is smart and good at what they do, why wouldn’t you be a fan of it?


  30. Wish Butler well whether he stays or goes. The notion that either Bill or Butler have acted inappropriately is foolish. The Patriots have developed Butler from a street free agent into a top tier corner. Butler has excelled and has been a major factor in two super bowl wins. Now Butler wants security and Bill wants value. As fans, we tend to want to see our favorite players stay but best to appreciate them while they are here and wish them well if they leave.

  31. Supposedly, Butler was an “I want to be a Patriot for life” guy and last year the Patriots offered to sign him for 6 to 7 million annually (per a Boston Herald source) and that was rejected. He and his agent said they’d like to be at a top 10 cornerback number (9.5 million ballpark) The Pats supposedly told them they’d never pay that much for anyone. (The exception was Revis for the year he was here, but he had elite status at the time).

    Fast-forward to this week with the Gilmore signing that guarantees him 40 million–their biggest free agent deal in 10 years. Naturally, Butler and his agent were ticked off about that considering that Gilmore isn’t Champ Bailey or someone that Butler isn’t arguably better than, and that Butler has been a model Patriot while he waited his turn, elevating himself to a Pro-Bowl level of play.

  32. I just don’t understand why Bill B. Is so cold to Malcolm Butler. He is a great player who made arguably the greatest play in Patriots superbpem history. You would think he would take care of players who have given their all to the Patriots. As a fan I am disgusted with Bill B.

  33. Cheap skate cheats again treating THEIR good players like garbage. How about this for a novel idea. Pay the boy he helped win you you a Super Bowl. Ok he was gifted by a terrible call but he had to catch it with everything on the line.

  34. At this point Butler is disgruntled so I wouldn’t want him at New England. He will be a cancer in the locker room or worse subotage the team on the field.

  35. BB signed this guy off the street when nobody else gave him a chance…
    Now he’s in the last year of his RFA contract & tendered at 3.91 million… Not much different than a guy drafted in a late round who’s contract is coming due….
    Butler WAS OFFERED a long term contract last year that would have paid him decently & given him job security as well as financial security… HE REFUSED!!!
    The system is what it is & BUTLER has no right to complain as HE MADE HIS CHOICE LAST YEAR…..
    Pats now hold all the cards & can do as they see fit as to what’s best for the TEAM…..
    Love Butler but HE’S being stupid on this one!!!
    Go Pats!!!!

  36. If the Saints give their 1st rounder for Malcolm Butler, they’re absolutely nuts. Butler’s a decent corner, but he’s not worth a 1st round pick. New England already fleeced them for Cooks. Their offseason sounds like trades you’d do on Madden when you managed two teams and only wanted to draft with one. Got to credit BB on this one, he worked those guys.

    I guess we know now why NE was fine giving up a 1st round pick for Cooks. They know Mickey Loomis can’t help but give it right back…

  37. This whole thing seems strange. The agent must be the problem. He gave Butler a shot as a un-drafted free agent and the player or agent must of disrespected Belichick in some way? Once that happens, it’s “We’re moving on” as Belichick likes to say. The money the Pats shelled out to Gilmore must of been Belichick’s way of sending a message. Too bad. Butler could have worked out a contract with the Pats. Too bad.

  38. “I am at a loss to figure out how the relationship between Butler and the Patriots came to this.”

    His “agent” is a childhood friend, who has never been a sports agent before and has no other clients. I am pretty sure I know where Butler is getting his bad advice.

    Bottom line is that Pats are offering him fair money and even offered a long term deal, but Butler and his agent want him to be paid like an UFA, which he is not.

    I’d hate to see him go, but if this the way his contracts are going to be handled by him/his agent, I can see why Hoodie will let him go.

  39. nhstateline says:
    Mar 14, 2017 1:54 PM
    and cue the whining from other teams. This has to be cheating of some kind because the Patriots and the Saints are involved with it. I mean let’s face it Rog said both of them did something or other and that settled it……


    So even though the biggest obstacle is how Belichick is so rigid about following the rules you would still say that must be cheating somehow. Sure man.

    And yes, Roger has shown a willingness to lie to indict both men before so they do need to watch it here and not give even something innocent that can be twisted. They cant do any wink/nod stuff because Butler and his agent would be party to it to and if they flirt at all with the rules in a way the agent can speak to later they are giving leverage to someone that has already shown themselves to be bad business.

    And thats what the article is saying when it says they are treading lightly.

  40. Bit hey, it’s the NE way. Who am I to judge?


    Let’s stop with the phony “Butler tears”… he is getting paid well and through 2017 would have made $6 million and looking at a $50 million contract in year 5. That is exactly the same timeframe that Hightower and Gilmore are going through, and they are both high draft picks.

    Butler came undrafted to BB and was given the chance to compete by BB. And btw, it was the Patriots who coached him up for the SB play and continued to coach him up since then.

    It seems to me that Butler has turned greedy…very greedy and has stabbed the Patriots and BB in the back…but hey, keep running with “patriots and BB are the bad guys”. It’s football and Butler was given more chances than the other 99 guys that didn’t get the chance.

    Butler smells like a player who is already in debt up to his eyeballs and has been throwing his money around, taking care of his so called buddies from the old neighborhood. Now he can’t afford to wait another year like all the other NFL players…yup he’s special all right…wait till NO has to cut him for illegal outside activities.

    Good riddance Malcolm!!!

  41. The Players association is watching this like a hawk, I truly don’t think the league cares… and if the PA screams foul , then the league has to intervene.

    I am pretty sure both the Saints and Patriots are gonna follow the rule of law on this and do a deal that is fair for everyone.

    Win for Butler… a lucrative long term deal.
    Win for Saints … a talented veteran corner to help a very poor secondary.
    Win for Pats: They get a first round pick for an un-drafted free agent.

  42. I hope he can stay in NE. They’ll have a very stout secondary to free up the safeties a bit for blitzing and freelancing… a solid run stuffin’ unit, and an incredible offence. Who can deny ring #6? I hope they get aggressive going after the qb next year. It’s going to be awesome!! LET’S GO!!

  43. Butler is the one down there negotiating. Pats are not and can not be involved in negotiating a trade for Butler because he has not signed his tender.

    Its reported that Butler did not leave with an offer sheet, so the Saints are not willing to give the Pats their first round pick for the privilege of paying to Malcolm Butler a contract amount which Pats are unwilling to match.

    Butler did not get an offer sheet so Butler must sign his tender. Now once he signs his tender the Patriots may receive a trade offer from NO. It will be up to the Patriots whether they want to trade him or not for whatever the Saints are offering.

    No winks or nods necessary. Butler was there negotiating for an offer sheet. He didn’t get one. Once he signs his tender with NE, the Saints can acquire him for whatever terms the Pats accept. Butler will have no say in it. NO and the Pats will likely do what is in their best interests and NOT what is most favorable to Butler.

    If Butler didn’t want to wait til 2018 for a LTD when he would become UFA, then Derek Simpson, Butler’s agent, really should have advised Butler to accept the long term deal offered to him before last season which was for $6-7 million per year.

    I think the only thing that happened down there in NO is the Saints just got an closeup look at Butler to decide whether they want him or not, The Pats were ready to trade him since the Cooks deal went down, but could not because Butler hadn’t signed tender.

    Now we’ll find out if the Saints still want him. The 32nd pick will prob come back to NE. The net result will be what NE originally wanted to do – trade Butler for Cooks.

  44. Butler loves playing for the Patriots and the Patriots love having Butler. The Patriots offered Butler a fair extension with a full two years left of control from his rookie contract (same money as total of his remaining contract, first round tender and a franchise player year). That is nearly unheard of by the Pats! Butler wants to hit free agency and get that big contract, but he has to wait a year. Even if he signs with the Saints it will be at a discount because they will have to trade so much value to the Patriots to do it.

    There is no upset nor acrimony between the Patriots and Butler. The Patriots extension offers are the deepest form of respect.

    The most amusing result of all this would be if Butler understood the market better after being courted by the Saints, returned and signed an extension with New England!

  45. Having read all the threads I offer this perspective. If the NO offer is 6-7 why wouldn’t the pats match is since they already offered him that much. If the offer is 12 then take the pick…very interesting.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.