Malcolm Butler Set to Visit With New Orleans Saints

Doyle BarkerMar 15, 2017

The New Orleans Saints could address the cornerback position through free agency, after all.

That's why the Cooks-for-picks trade needs to play itself out.

Another swap may be imminent.

Saints coach Sean Payton confirmed on Tuesday that the team was hosting Butler for a visit, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media later reported that New Orleans is hoping to agree to the framework of a deal with Butler this week.

While not almost as valuable as a second round pick in this 2017 class, which is positively loaded with corner prospects that could replace Butler in the long run, keeping him on the team this season and settling for a third round pick two years from now would give the Patriots a very, very strong secondary for 2017. It did take the team's first-round pick (No. 32 overall) and their third-round compensatory selection (No. 103) to obtain the former 2014 Saints first-round pick. In 2016, he earned a base salary of $600,000 while playing the second-most snaps on defense behind only captain and free safety Devin McCourty.

The 27-year-old has proven himself as one of the top 10 cornerbacks in the NFL over his three years in the league. Yet he finds himself with little leverage to show for it.

The Patriots have a few options when it comes to Butler. He led the team in tackles as the starting middle linebacker during his rookie season, then was banished to the background last season.

It'd be far from the first time.

A large contingent of New England Patriots fans might soon be very let down and very vocal.

The Saints and Patriots have a history of making trades with each other, with the Cooks deal as the latest example.

He'd be a welcome addition in New Orleans.

It's no secret that the Eagles were desperate to add a wide receiver this offseason. If the Saints are willing to pay Butler the money he wants and New England does not match, the Saints will have to part ways with their 1st round pick to acquire the cornerback. Cooks, though, was about to have his $781,599 roster bonus kick in this Monday, and time to take the best available offer on the table was diminishing.

The Patriots don't have a first, or second-round pick, so keep that in mind as the Patriots look to potentially trade Butler. It's not realistic, just like it wasn't realistic for the Saints to receive a mid-first-round pick for Cooks, who only is under contract for two more seasons. But if the Saints are the ones who initiate the trade talks, Belichick will be more comfortable (or at least less uncomfortable) about working out a tentative trade before Butler signs the tender offer.

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