Restricted free agent Malcolm Butler has scheduled a visit with the Saints on Thursday as they consider how they may be able to make a trade for the cornerback. Sean Payton confirmed the visit telling the Associated Press that he holds Butler in high regard.
Butler was initially part of the trade speculation between the two teams in a deal for Brandin Cooks, however the trade was completed that sent Cooks to New England for draft picks. Some have speculated that Butler could still be a quiet part of the plan and that New England may trade for pick 32 back. However I think that is simply not the case.
Bill Belichick does things strictly by the book, Malcolm Butler has not signed his tender so he is not under contract with the Patriots and is a restricted free agent. As a result, it is almost a certainty that he was not part of the discussions of the Cooks trade, Bill simply won’t discuss players who have not signed a tender and are not under contract, he has said it before to the press and I don’t see how this time would be different.
If Butler decides to sign an offer sheet with the Saints then the Patriots could choose to match the offer or let him walk and get the Saints first round pick in the upcoming draft as compensation. Considering that the Patriots are off the board for the first two rounds of the draft as things stand, that may appeal to them.
The Saints would give up the 11th pick in the draft and reports from New Orleans have indicated that they will not want to sign him to an offer sheet. What will more than likely happen now is that the player will try work out a deal with the Saints and they will approach the Patriots to try and strike a trade deal which allows them to keep the 11th pick in the draft.
The Saints have a good relationship with the Patriots and have traded several times in the past. Payton and Belichick are friends and have had their teams practice together several times during recent preseasons. A new cornerback has been labelled as a “must” in New Orleans as they look to improve the secondary.
They led the league in offense last season but missed out on the playoffs as the defense slumped to 27th in the league.