New England Patriots CB Malcolm Butler is still looking to cash in on a megacontract and his options for 2017 are running out. He has to sign his tender to either remain with the Patriots or be traded to a team like the New Orleans Saints- and time is running out.
The 2017 NFL Draft is a little over a week away and there is no incentive for the Patriots to trade away Butler after the draft for a 2018 selection. If the Patriots are willing to forgo a pair of early round picks in exchange for QB Jimmy Garoppolo because they’d rather keep him around as insurance, they’ll definitely keep an All Pro cornerback like Butler for a year if it means the difference between a future first round pick and a future compensatory third round pick.
Butler is expected to play out his restricted season in 2017 and enter free agency in 2018 where he should cash in with a top-of-the-market contract. One league source tells the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin that Butler might be better off just signing a deal now because he won’t be getting much more money moving forward.
“It’s unlikely that Butler will score a Stephon Gilmore-type deal, ($13 million per year, $31 million fully guaranteed), but as one league source explained it, Butler needs to cash in now,” Volin writes. “He will be 28 years old next year, on the older side for free agents (Gilmore is 26), and his value is pretty much set after two excellent seasons with the Patriots.
“Another season with the Patriots won’t really increase Butler’s value, but he runs the risk of injury or decreased production (he can buy injury insurance, but it can be costly and is often hard to prove ‘loss of value’).
“The Saints would have to give Butler a new contract if they trade for him. Whatever he can get now is probably worth forgoing what he might be able to get next offseason.”
Butler is 27 years old right now and an All Pro cornerback. He is in his prime. If he were an unrestricted free agent cornerback, he would have likely signed a top-five cornerback contract at roughly $14 million per season. No matter how great Butler plays in 2017, that remains his market.
Alternatively, Butler could get hurt in 2017 to reduce his value. He could see a dip in production with the buzz saw of opposing receivers on the Patriots schedule. He’ll also be another year older, and apparently purchasing injury insurance isn’t as clear-cut as it seems.
I’ll buy the argument that Butler should sign an extension in 2017 because there’s very real risk of injury, and that a discount due to the restricted free agent year is a reasonable expectation from the team. I’ll also buy that Butler’s value won’t go higher than $14 million per year, no matter how great his 2017 season.
But I draw the line at saying Butler’s age should play a part in his value. Butler will be 28 after the 2017 season. That is in line with the age of numerous cornerbacks that received top money in free agency.
Janoris Jenkins turned 28 years old in the October after signing his 5-year, $62.5 million contract with the New York Giants. Robert Alford was 28 when he signed a 4-year, $38 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons. Josh Norman was 28 when he signed his 5-year, $75 million contract with Washington. Aqib Talib was 28 when he signed his 6-year, $57 million contract with the Denver Broncos. Sean Smith was 29 when he signed a 4-year, $40 million contract with the Oakland Raiders. Darrelle Revis was 30 when he signed a 5-year, $70 million contract with the New York Jets.
All of these contracts ranked in the top 15 at the position, despite them being the same age or older than Butler will be in 2018. Butler’s age shouldn’t play a factor in how much money he’ll receive in 2018.