New England Patriots CB Malcolm Butler is meeting with the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, according to Saints head coach Sean Payton, via the Associated Press.
#Saints coach Sean Payton to AP: #Patriots RFA Malcom Butler visiting New Orleans on Thursday.— Brett Martel (@brettmartel) March 14, 2017
The Saints were linked to Butler as a potential landing spot during negotiations for WR Brandin Cooks, but Butler did not sign his tender offer, which meant that he was not able to be traded. The Patriots traded for Cooks by giving up their first round selection.
Butler is a restricted free agent under a first round tender, which means that any team that wants to sign Butler away from the Patriots would have to give up their original first round pick to New England, unless the two sides negotiated separate trade terms for when Butler signs his tender.
The Saints currently pick 11th overall, which is an incredibly high price to pay for Butler in addition to his projected top-of-the-market contract. The Patriots might prefer to keep a cornerback of Butler’s talent under a $3.91 million contract in 2017 than negotiate any trade for a midround pick, or even the Patriots original 32nd overall selection- although head coach Bill Belichick would probably be happy to take the 11th overall pick.
Don’t be surprised if Butler is connected to more teams in the coming days. This story is just getting started.