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Malcolm Butler running out of options, as Saints won’t sign him to offer sheet 03.29.17 at 11:22 am ET
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Malcolm Butler is running out of options. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Malcolm Butler is running out of options. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Malcolm Butler doesn’t have as many options as he did a few weeks ago.

Speaking to reporters at the NFL league meetings Wednesday morning, Saints coach Sean Payton said the team will not be signing Butler to an offer sheet. If they did and the Patriots didn’t match, then they would have to give New England their No. 11 overall pick.

“We had the chance to visit with him,” Payton said. “Currently, it is my understanding he hasn’t signed his tender, so it was just that we could sign him to an offer sheet, but I don’t think we are going to do that and give up the 11th [overall] pick. In fact, we’re not going to do that. It is what it is right now.”

Butler visited the Saints two weeks ago, but no long-term deal was agreed upon.

Payton described the situation as “ongoing” and “it might take a bit of time.” Not exactly signaling momentum for Butler to go to New Orleans.

The 27-year-old cornerback is now left with two options: get traded, or return to the Patriots for $3.91 million. Both of these require him to sign his tender, as the Patriots can’t talk with other teams on a trade until his tender is signed.

While the door isn’t completely shut on a deal to have him go to the Saints, it seems more and more likely he will return to the Patriots in 2017. His whole goal was to get paid like an unrestricted free agent, but the offers haven’t come in that he was hoping for.

Now, his best option seems like to play for $3.91 million in New England and then cash in next offseason when he is actually an unrestricted free agent.

Read More: Malcolm Butler, sean payton,
Saints GM: New Orleans ‘kicking the tires’ on Malcolm Butler 03.28.17 at 4:13 pm ET
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Malcolm Butler to the Saints is no longer the lock that it once was. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Malcolm Butler to the Saints is no longer the lock that it once was. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Things have certainly changed a bit with the Malcolm Butler narrative over the last few weeks.

It seemed at first like it was a done deal that the 27-year-old cornerback would be headed to New Orleans, but now a few weeks after his visit, it certainly isn’t the lock it once was perceived.

“We’re kicking the tires, I guess is the best way to describe that,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said to reporters on Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona. “We’ll see how that process works.”

Butler is a restricted free agent so the Saints could put in an offer sheet on him and the Patriots would have the right to match. If they didn’t then the Saints would get Butler, but need it give up their first-round pick, which would be No. 11 overall. This doesn’t seem likely.

The most likely route if he were to go to New Orleans would be a trade where the Saints give up their No. 32 overall pick (which the Patriots traded them for Brandin Cooks) or maybe a second and a third-rounder.

The 27-year-old hasn’t signed his first-round tender ($3.91 million) yet, which means trade negotiations cannot occur by league rules.

“We’ve accomplished some things we want to get accomplished, and there are a couple things we didn’t,” Loomis said. “But you know that going in because the offseason is comprised of free agency, the draft and trade potentials. We’re not done with free agency yet, and yet the bulk of that has happened.”

Read More: Malcolm Butler,
Robert Kraft: Patriots’ intention isn’t to trade Malcolm Butler 03.27.17 at 4:21 pm ET
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Robert Kraft said the Patriots' intention isn't to trade Malcolm Butler. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Robert Kraft said the Patriots’ intention isn’t to trade Malcolm Butler. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

A lot can happen with Malcolm Butler given his restricted free agent status, but Patriots owner Robert Kraft hopes he plays his 2017 season with the Patriots.

“We have an offer sheet out to him and we know he has the ability to go out in the market and get someone to sign him, and then we either match it [or] get the first-round draft pick,” Kraft said to reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona Monday. “I’m rooting — I hope he’s with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us.

“I have a great affection for him, and he actually was part of probably the greatest play in the history of our team. But there are a lot of people involved in that on both sides.”

The Patriots placed a first-round tender ($3.91 million) on Butler, which means if another team signs him to an offer sheet and the Patriots don’t match, then they would get that team’s first-round pick in return.

If Butler signs his tender, at that point he could get traded, which has been rumored following his visit with the Saints, but Kraft said the Patriots’ intention is not to trade the 27-year-old. He could also just play the 2017 season out with the Patriots for $3.91 million and become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

“No,” Kraft replied when asked if the Patriots wanted to trade him.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Malcolm Butler, Robert Kraft,
Sunday 7: If Malcolm Butler wants to be traded, he better sign tender soon 03.26.17 at 6:00 am ET
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If Malcolm Butler wants to play for another team in 2017, things need to get moving. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

If Malcolm Butler wants to play for another team in 2017, things need to get moving. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

1. There’s no question the Malcolm Butler situation is a very complex one. As it stands now, Butler hasn’t signed his first-round tender with the Patriots ($3.91 million) and he has until June 15 to do so, but if he wants to play for another team next year, he needs to get moving with the process. The process starts with him signing his tender, so the Patriots can negotiate a deal with other teams, or he could hope a team places an offer sheet on him, which teams have until April 17 to do so. This seems unlikely because teams probably wouldn’t want to give up a first-round pick and sign him to a long-term deal. He has no chance of getting traded unless he signs his tender and with teams finalizing their draft plans, they likely want to know what is going to happen with Butler beforehand. For example, if the Saints don’t acquire Butler before the draft, they likely will draft a cornerback high in the draft. If Butler doesn’t get moved before the draft, the likelihood he returns to the Patriots in 2017 increases. The 27-year-old could be dealt after the draft, but then the compensation would be for 2018 and probably not for as much as it would have been before the draft. Bottom line, if Butler wants to play outside New England next season, he should look to sign his tender soon.

2. The Patriots will be an active team this week at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, Arizona. Robert Kraft is on six committees, which will meet over the course of the week. They include: media (which he chairs), NFL Network, finance, compensation, management council executive committees and chairmen’s committee. Also, Jonathan Kraft co-chairs digital media and serves on the business ventures committee. Bill Belichick was scheduled to speak Tuesday at the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday morning when every coach has a table and is available for an hour, but Saturday night it was reported by the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, he has a “scouting conflict” and will not be speaking. Sean Payton will be interesting on the NFC side Wednesday morning at their breakfast with how he talks about Butler. Last week the way he was talking following Butler’s visit was almost like it was a done deal he would play for the Saints. With nothing happening this past week, maybe things have changed. Lastly, with top executives from every team in the same place, the Jimmy Garoppolo rumors could heat up once again even with ESPN’s Adam Schefter continuing to be adamant he won’t be traded. It’s been reported the Browns will circle back with the Patriots and make another offer this week.

3. Another big thing at the owners meetings is rule changes. Although the Patriots didn’t propose any changes for the second straight year, they still will keep an eye on how the voting shakes out. Banning leaping over the line of scrimmage when attempting to block a kick has been proposed, as well as permitting a coach to challenge any officials’ decisions, except scoring plays and turnovers. One of the more outlandish proposals came from the Redskins, who are proposing to make a touchbacks at the 20-yard line when the kick goes through the uprights opposed to the normal 25-yard line.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Jimmy Garoppolo, Malcolm Butler, Robert Kraft
Malcolm Butler on Instagram: ‘Nothing changed but the change’ 03.22.17 at 4:14 pm ET
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2017 appears to be the year of cryptic social media posts and Malcolm Butler is the latest.

The Patriots cornerback posted a picture of himself Wednesday with the caption: “Nothing changed but the change” #BLESSED.

Butler currently is a restricted free agent with a first-round tender, so he’s on the books for $3.91 million. He wants more money and a long-term deal.

He even visited the Saints last week to discuss a long-term deal, so there’s a thought maybe the post could be indicating the two sides came to an agreement and now it will be up to the Patriots to decide what to do next. They could match the Saints’ offer and keep Butler, work out a trade, or not match at all and let him go to New Orleans where they would get the Saints’ No. 11 overall pick.

Or, this could just be nothing.

Here is the post.

“Nothing changed but the change” #BLESSED

A post shared by Malcolm CB Butler (@mac_bz) on

Read More: Malcolm Butler,
What’s the latest with Malcolm Butler and the Saints? 03.20.17 at 2:06 pm ET
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Malcolm Butler and the Saints appear to still be working out a new contract. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Malcolm Butler and the Saints appear to still be working out a new contract. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Last week restricted free agent cornerback Malcolm Butler met with the Saints on Wednesday and Thursday as the two sides look to come to agreement on a long-term deal.

According to CSNNE’s Mike Giardi, the parameters of a deal are mostly in place, but there’s some quibbling over guaranteed money. The report adds compensation between the Patriots and Saints can’t be discussed until Butler signs his tender, but both sides know what it will take to get a deal done.

ESPN’s Mike Triplett, who covers the Saints, adds “it is a process that could go either way.”

Nothing can happen until the Saints and Butler agree on a long-term contract, which by having Butler in for a visit last week, means the interest is there.

It would appear Butler isn’t going to sign his first-round tender ($3.91 million) until he knows he can get a long-term deal with the Saints. That would then trigger a domino effect where the Patriots could then trade Butler because he’s under contract.

At this point it seems the No. 11 overall pick (if the Saints signed him as a restricted free agent and Patriots didn’t match) will not be happening.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2017 NFL free agency, Malcolm Butler,
Sunday 7: Why Patriots probably will not be getting Saints’ No. 11 overall pick for Malcolm Butler 03.19.17 at 6:00 am ET
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Malcolm Butler is likely headed to New Orleans. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Malcolm Butler is likely headed to New Orleans. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

1. With Malcolm Butler visiting the Saints last week as a restricted free agent with a first-round tender, many have speculated the Patriots should force the Saints into signing him as a restricted free agent so they could get the Saints’ No. 11 overall pick. This doesn’t seem likely, and is where a potential trade comes in, which could have already been discussed two weeks ago when the two teams made a deal for wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Cooks needed to get traded last weekend because he was due a roster bonus last Monday. While Butler was rumored to be part of the deal, he ultimately wasn’t. This could have been because he didn’t sign his first-round tender. It’s quite possible the two teams agreed on a trade involving Butler and Cooks, but could only include the Cooks portion last weekend because the Saints needed to meet and work out a long-term deal with Butler before that part of the deal is executed. Once a long-term agreement happens, Butler would sign his tender and the Patriots could send him to the Saints and get back their first-round pick. That would mean in the end the Patriots would get Cooks and the Saints’ fourth-round pick in exchange for Butler and the Saints’ third-round pick. Not a bad deal at all for both sides. Think of if this way: Does a deal with the Saints getting Butler and the Patriots’ first and third-round picks in exchange for Cooks, their No.11 overall pick and a fourth-round pick make sense? No, they would be getting robbed. Bottom line, if the Patriots don’t in fact get the No. 11 overall pick from the Saints for Butler, note the Cooks trade and realize the two sides could have already negotiated a Cooks for Butler trade and pick swap, and the Patriots’ first-round pick last weekend could have been just a place-holder.

2. It cannot be stated how important it was for the Patriots to re-sign Dont’a Hightower. Hightower is the undisputed leader of the defense and who the unit looks to most. The 27-year-old isn’t much of a “ra-ra” leader, but when something needs to be said, he says it and gets the full attention of the team. This is what makes him such a great leader. After the Jamie Collins trade this past season, Hightower was the one leading the way in keeping the unit together and getting back on track after the poor showing against Seattle in the game immediately following the trade. Also, look at who is behind Hightower on the depth chart: Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy, Shea McClellin and Jonathan Freeny. Usually the Patriots have internal fallback options in place for free agents in case they leave, but in the case of Hightower they really didn’t, which was another major reason why it was imperative he returned in 2017.

3. One of the takeaways from Duron Harmon’s conference call on Friday was him noting he was going to experiment playing a couple of pounds heavier, going up from 205 pounds to 207 or 208 during OTAs and minicamp. “I would say the run area is a key [area] where I feel that I can grow in,” he said. “My tackling could be a little bit more aggressive and I think that’s going to come with putting on a little bit more weight, being able to bang down there. So I think that area is key, and could be an area I could grow a lot in, I believe so.” This could be a sign the team might use him more in a Patrick Chung role, where Chung plays closer to the line of scrimmage and is a major player in stopping the run.

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Read More: Dont'a Hightower, Duron Harmon, Malcolm Butler, Malcolm Mitchell
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