CB Butler likely to stay with Patriots

CB Butler likely to stay with Patriots

The New Orleans Saints are the one team that has been consistently linked to Malcolm Butler this offseason, but it sounds like they are losing interest in trying to trade for the Pro Bowl cornerback.

Butler, who was a restricted free agent, could not be traded until he signed the $3.91 million tender last week for the 2017 season. That was in the cards once Butler signed his offer sheet last week, especially because he and the Saints had reached an agreement on a framework for a long-term deal.

The trade possibility that has hung over the New Orleans Saints' offseason might be on the backburner as the NFL Draft approaches this week. And if Butler continues to be a top option at the position-he was ranked the 25th-best player in the NFL previous year by Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus-he'll be in line to earn a major payday next offseason. This still doesn't rule out the Saints changing their offer depending on how their draft goes, but waiting until the after the draft produces a litany of new issues to overcome. This would fit in with Saints' draft analyst Jeff Ireland's modus operandi, as Ireland has been drafting defense heavily (by Saints' standards) since he came on in 2015.

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The Saints (picking 11, 32, 42, 76, 103 in the first three rounds) are still interested in Butler, but someone familiar with their thinking believes they are leaning toward keeping their first three picks.

Regardless of what happens, Ireland appears to have a specific vision for this draft, and most people should know by now that the Patriots aren't going to blink. He's also 27, and he has virtually no leverage.

Butler's best, most realistic option is to play his ass off in 2017.

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