An opportunity to test the market as a restricted free agent didn’t exactly work out as planned for Malcolm Butler.
Butler was hoping the Patriots would make the deal, according to CSN New England’s Mike Giardi.
“He wanted to be traded,” Giardi explained on Thursday. “He knew what the money was in New Orleans. So when we talk about him, ‘Oh he’s happy. It’s nice that he’s joined his teammates again.’ He had no other choice.
“He wanted New Orleans. He wanted them badly. They couldn’t work out a deal. So what’s he supposed to do now? Sit at home? No, you suck it up. You have to turn yourself back into a Patriot at least for a year, and hope. Who knows, maybe you do your work and maybe they say, ‘Hey, Malcolm, you know what, we can’t give you (Stephon) Gilmore money. But maybe we can find something. Maybe we’ve got $10 (million) or $11 million.”
Butler is tentatively set to play the 2017 season under the terms of his first-round restricted free agent tender. That means he’ll be on the books for just one year at a salary of $3.91 million, rather than playing under the more lucrative long-term contract he seemed to have in place with the Saints.
While New England could still trade Butler or reward his standout play with a long-term deal, the team’s likely content to take advantage of a relative bargain opposite Gilmore, who joined in March on a five-year deal reportedly worth $40 million guaranteed.
Butler will be scheduled for unrestricted free agency next March, when the Saints and any number of other teams could get involved in a bidding war that wouldn’t require any sort of trade compensation.
The 27-year-old has been a consistent presence in the New England secondary since being the hero of Super Bowl XLIX as a rookie. Over the past two seasons, he’s recorded six interceptions and 32 passes defensed while starting all 32 games.
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