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2020 NFL free agency: Patriots expected to place the second-round tender on restricted free agent Adam Butler

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Related: Patriots reportedly reach two-year extension with captain Matthew Slater

New England Patriots Practice Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

While most of the headlines these days are reserved for those players currently scheduled to enter unrestricted free agency next week — think: Tom Brady — NFL teams also need to take care of their restricted and exclusive rights free agents over the course of the upcoming days. The New England Patriots have a total of three players falling under this category, with defensive tackle Adam Butler being one of them.

A restricted free agent, Butler can be tendered at one of three levels by the Patriots to prevent him from entering the open market on March 18: the first-round tender worth an estimated $4.7 million, the $3.3 million second-round tender or the $2.1 million original round tender. According to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the expectation is that New England will use the second-round tender on the former undrafted free agent.

Given Butler’s role in 2019 and his growth over his three seasons in the NFL, this decision is not a surprising one. After all, he served as a core member of the team’s defensive tackle rotation last season and has proven his value to the defense as a stout interior penetrator capable to take on double-teams. Placing the second-round tender on the 25-year-old should therefore shy away teams from going after him, lest they want to give up compensation.

After all, such is the nature of restricted free agency: in case another team signs a tendered player to an offer sheet, his team has five days to either match it or receive the draft pick appropriate for the tender as compensation. In Butler’s case, this would be a second-round pick. While the cost associated with this level is significantly higher than the original round tender, for example, it likely limits competition for his services — or eliminates it altogether.

The Patriots also have one other restricted free agent to tender before next Wednesday’s 3:59 p.m. ET deadline in guard Jermaine Eluemunor, and also needs to decide whether or not to keep exclusive-rights free agent Keionta Davis in the fold. If the team does not tender the two players, they will hit unrestricted free agency once the new league year begins.