The New England Patriots have a long list of players about to hit free agency. But while most of the headlines are naturally reserved for unrestricted free agents like defensive captain Dont’a Hightower, one of the most intriguing players on the list is restricted free agent Malcolm Butler.
Butler has been the Patriots’ number one cornerback the last two seasons after joining the team as an undrafted rookie in 2014. Now, the 26-year old is set to hit free agency next week. However, due to the three-year contract he signed as a rookie, his status will be restricted. And according to CSNNE’s Michael Giardi, Butler is unhappy with this situation he currently is in:
Meanwhile, Malcolm Butler remains dissastified [sic] with his current contract/plight, dating back to last spring. Didn't impact his play last yr
Butler being a restricted free agent allows New England to simply tender the Pro Bowler to keep him from hitting the open market for another year. If the team, as is expected, did that at the first round level, Butler would be set to play the 2017 season on a non-guaranteed salary of around $3.9 million or $230,000 a week.
The tender looks like an enticing option for both player and team at first glance: New England would keep its top cornerback at a relatively modest salary cap hit, while Butler would more than double his career earnings of thus far not even $2.0 million. However, it will probably not help Butler feel any less dissatisfied with the current situation he is in, as the tender does not give him any long-term security.
Therefore, the best-case scenario for all parties involved still seems to be a contract extension after Butler is assigned the first round tender and time is no longer of the essence. Until the two sides are ultimately able to find a common ground, Butler’s dissatisfaction will likely not go away – and hopefully for the team not impact his on-field performance and availability.