"By the seventh day Belichick had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work." It was not exactly like that but yesterday had a sort of slower feel to it than the previous three days: For the first time since free agency started the New England Patriots did not make a personnel move.
However, that does not mean that there were no news and that speculation and rumors stopped floating around. Let’s take a look at it.
The Malcolm Butler situation is a mess...
A team placing value above all else, a player that has easily outperformed his contract, an agent who never negotiated an NFL contract – that is the recipe for a contract dispute. The Patriots are in the midst of it with their top cornerback and there does not appear to be a solution in sight. Yesterday’s report that Butler and his camp are searching for teams to potentially sign the 27-year old to an offer sheet only adds fuel to the fire. And as things presently stand, seeing the Pro Bowler will leave New England after three seasons appears to be a realistic scenario.
...but the Patriots are still in a relatively comfortable position
Even if Butler wanted to leave Foxboro, being a restricted free agent complicates matters for him and puts the Patriots at an advantage. He cannot be traded without signing his offer sheet first and if another team offers one, New England could either match or receive a first round draft pick. And if Butler wants to play the holdout game, his options remain limited: Either he suits up for the final six regular season games of the season or 2017 will not be accrued and he remains a restricted free agent next year. All while the Patriots have a top cornerback on their roster in Stephon Gilmore.
Dont’a Hightower keeps trying to maximize his value
Yesterday’s report that the New York Jets have joined the ranks of suitors interested in Hightower should not alter the Patriots’ approach: He will visit the AFC East rivals later today, yes, but he will still likely give New England a chance to match any incoming offer. The team obviously will try to keep him in the fold but simultaneously will not hesitate letting the linebacker leave if it feels New York’s offer overvalues him. After all, the Patriots did not build a dynasty by winning bidding wars.
Lawrence Guy’s contract is structured more like a 1-year deal
The Patriots signed the former Baltimore Raven to a 4-year deal worth $20.0 million. However, if the team does not see Guy as a fit it could easily let him go after only one season without any major financial repercussions: Only his 2017 salary and the $4.0 million signing bonus are fully guaranteed and via patscap.com, the team would save money in each of the final three years in case it releases the veteran.