The New England Patriots have been linked to Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman in recent weeks, as first reported by NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, as the Patriots have struggled to reach an extension with restricted free agent CB Malcolm Butler. Within the past couple of days, two of the most respected Patriots reporters have distanced the franchise from Sherman and the trade talks: CSNNE’s Tom Curran on April 6th and ESPN’s Mike Reiss on April 9th.
“My sense on all the talk regarding Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and a possible fit with the Patriots is that Belichick and Co., did their due diligence on Sherman leading up to free agency, when they knew they'd be active in the cornerback market,” Reiss writes. “So if the Patriots and Seahawks had a conversation on the topic, it would make sense. But that, if anything, would have been part of the information-gathering process as they explored all cornerback opportunities before signing free agent Stephon Gilmore to a five-year, $65 million deal. The Patriots aren't expected to pursue Sherman.”
Why the sudden change in storyline? An easy answer is that the Patriots and Butler have re-opened communication and the Patriots are getting the word out that they still want him around. That’s my speculation based on the lack of news surrounding Butler and the New Orleans Saints.
Butler has an April 21st deadline for negotiating with the Saints. Once that date passes, then the Patriots are the only team able to negotiate with Butler for the 2017 season. Butler would then face a June 15th deadline, when the Patriots are able to rescind their first round tender without penalty and retain Butler at 110% his 2016 salary, or $660,000- a big drop from his $3.91 million tender.
It seems that the Patriots would rather retain Butler at his $3.91 million tender than ship away more capital to acquire two seasons of Sherman.