Restricted free-agent cornerback Malcolm Butler signed his one-year tender with the New England Patriots, the team announced Tuesday.

The New Orleans Saints have been linked to Butler throughout the offseason, but acquiring him through a trade always made more sense than parting with the compensation tied to his first-round designation.

Signing his one-year tender in New England officially makes him available for such a deal, and a trade is on the table, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

Despite signing the tender, Butler has no intention of joining the team for voluntary offseason workouts, which began Tuesday, reports Michael Giardi of CSNNE.

After being the hero of Super Bowl XLIX as an undrafted rookie, Butler has emerged as a top-flight cornerback three seasons into his NFL career. The 27-year-old started all 32 games for New England from 2015-16, racking up six interceptions, 32 passes defensed, and 130 tackles.

Should he end up joining the Saints, perhaps in exchange for a Day 2 draft pick, Butler would upgrade a secondary that’s long been in need of an overhaul.

Remaining in New England, either under the $3.91-million tender or a long-term agreement, would see him join newly signed veteran Stephon Gilmore to make up one of the league’s top cornerback tandems.

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