New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler is already a legend. He made the single most impactful play in NFL history with his goal line interception in Super Bowl XLIX and followed it up with a Pro Bowl season as a starting cornerback.
Butler will become a restricted free agent after the 2016 season and there is every reason for both Butler and the Patriots to come to terms with a long term extension.
This is why these tweets from Butler are going to gather some attention.
Must maintain focus...— Malcolm CB Butler (@Mac_BZ) July 5, 2016
I'm so thankful.....— Malcolm CB Butler (@Mac_BZ) July 5, 2016
I guarantee that I’m going to be overly sensitive here and I will say that I am reading between the lines. I have no information regarding a possible extension between the two sides.
But, dang, these tweets offer a lot of meat on the bone.
On one hand, Butler could very well be using the 4th of July holiday to reflect on his success thus far in his career. It could be a mostly harmless tweet.
But on the other hand, these feel like tweets from a person who wanted a contract extension prior to the start of the season and possibly received it.
The Patriots have four priority players to bring back after this season: Butler, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Jabaal Sheard. Butler should theoretically be the easiest to extend because the Patriots have the ability to deny him the market with a hefty first round tag value as a restricted free agent in 2017.
What could the Patriots pay Butler?
Butler is under contract for a mere $600,000 in 2016 and the 1st round transition tag is expected to be roughly $4,000,000 next offseason. A third year of team control would involve the franchise tag which could be around $16,000,000 for cornerbacks in 2018. So the Patriots will likely have to pay $20.6 million to control Butler for the next three seasons, which is extremely reasonable for a player his caliber.
It’s not strange to see teams only guarantee 50% of that 3rd year of control value when calculating how much money to guarantee the play upfront, meaning Butler would only receive roughly $12.6 million in guaranteed money at signing. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if the contract extension or restructure included guaranteed money in the realm of $16-20 million due to the low cost of 2016.
I would think a 5-year deal (or a restructured 2016 and 4 new years) at $41.5 million would make sense for both sides, with $16 million guaranteed at signing. The new money would be similar to the contract that cornerback Jimmy Smith signed with the Ravens in 2015 and would fairly compensate Butler.
Let’s hope the tweets are Butler’s way to announce he is sticking around for a long time.
Edit: I’ve been told by the Herald’s Jeff Howe there’s been nothing on the Butler-contract front and that these tweets are unrelated. Bummer.