The New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints have quite the trade history over recent years, and the latest one could include restricted free agent cornerback Malcolm Butler.
Saints head coach Sean Payton confirmed that Butler would be visiting the team on Thursday, as reported by Brett Martel of The Associated Press.
There were earlier talks that included Butler in a trade situation involving wide receiver Brandin Cooks, but instead New England and New Orleans worked out a deal involving draft picks. The Saints sent Cooks and their fourth-round pick (No. 118) to New England in exchange for the Pats’ first-round pick (No. 32) and third-round pick (No. 103).
So what’s the current situation with Butler?
According to ESPN.com, “Butler was tendered at a first-round level ($3.91 million) by the Patriots and can’t be traded until he signs his tender. If he were to sign and offer sheet with another team and the Patriots chose not to match, the team that signed Butler would have to surrender its first-round pick to New England.”
This is a steep price to pay and an unlikely route for the Saints to take.
What is more likely to happen is that New Orleans and Butler could agree on a contract and New England would then agree work out a separate trade for something less than the No. 11 pick, which could only happen after Butler signs his tender.
Butler has played in 43-regular season games for the New England Patriots since he joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2014. Over that time, he has acquired 145 combined tackles, 36 passes defended and six interceptions.