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2017 NFL free agency: Patriots place first-round tender on CB Malcolm Butler

The Patriots want to keep their star cornerback in New England.

New England Patriots CB Malcolm Butler is the forgotten man in free agency not because of his skills, but because he’s a restricted free agent. The Patriots just placed a first-round tender on Butler, per multiple reports, in an attempt to keep Butler in New England for 2017.

The Patriots will still work to strike a long-term extension with Butler, but other teams will be able to contact the cornerback and come up with contract offers. Any team that signs Butler away from the Patriots will have to give New England their 2017 1st round pick as compensation.

Some teams at the end of the first round might actually give consideration to swiping Butler away from the Patriots. While that team won’t have the benefit of a player under rookie contract, they will get one of the top defenders in the entire league.

Any contract extension between the Patriots and Butler will stem from this first-round tender, valued at $3.91 million for 2017. Butler will command a contract with guaranteed money equal to the first-round tender in 2017 and the franchise tag in 2018, or roughly $19 million.

The Patriots extending the tender to Butler is just the first step towards reaching an extension. There was no incentive for Butler to sign the tender before entering free agency so he can bring back rival contract offers to the negotiating table in New England and increase his earnings.