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Saints have started negotiations with Patriots CB Malcolm Butler; Texans also express interest

Butler leaving New England becomes more realistic by the minute.

The New England Patriots and cornerback Malcolm Butler are currently at a crossroads regarding their relationship. The restricted free agent, who would receive $3.91 million this season if he signs his tender sheet, is looking for a long-term contract. The Patriots, who have just given free agent Stephon Gilmore a 5-year, $65 million contract, do not appear be the team to give him one, though – at least at this point in time.

The New Orleans Saints, on the other hand, could be. After all, according to Ian Rapoport, they are already negotiating with Butler:

On #Saints & Malcolm Butler: They’ve begun negotiations on a new contract & hope to strike a deal this week. Then talk trade with #Patriots

As has been reported earlier today, Butler will visit the Saints on Thursday. Before the 27-year old could leave New England, though, he would have to sign his tender sheet. The Patriots placed the first round tender on Butler meaning that if another team offers him a contract and New England refuses to match, Butler would leave and the Patriots receive a first round draft pick as compensation.

In the Saints scenario, this would be the 11th overall pick in this year’s draft. Of course, the Patriots and Saints could try to work out a different kind of deal in case New Orleans does want to add Butler but does not necessarily want to give up the first of its two first round draft picks.

Once Butler’s visit is over and the Patriots enter the reported negotiations, we should get a clearer picture of what New England’s potential compensation would look like.

What it would not look like, at least from the current perspective, is what the Houston Texans have to offer. The team has also entered the Butler sweepstakes according to Eric Edholm:

Another team in Malcolm Butler mix: #Texans. Source said they're interested in sending 2nd-rd pick to NE if can get Butler signed long term

However, with the Patriots having placed the first round tender on Butler and the Saints also in contention, it is highly unlikely New England trades the Pro Bowler for anything less than a first round draft pick – especially considering that the 27-year old would net a third round compensatory selection in case he leaves as an unrestricted free agent next year.