Malcolm Butler is informing teams he wants a Stephon Gilmore-level deal, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports (on Twitter). The RFA cornerback’s agent is contacting teams trying to find one willing to fork over a first-round pick for his client, per La Canfora (via Twitter), although this shouldn’t be deemed as especially unusual.
However, Butler might not be happy with his currently employer after the Patriots signed the Bills’ previous No. 1 corner to a lucrative contract. The fourth-year player’s camp, per Michael Giardi of CSNNE.com (Twitter link), is “extremely frustrated” by the Patriots’ current position and their decision to add Gilmore on a big deal.
La Canfora adds the Patriots would likely be OK with another team signing Butler to an offer sheet and collecting a first-round pick by refusing to match. They sent their 2017 first-rounder to the Saints for Brandin Cooks and moved their second-round choice in a deal for Kony Ealy during an action-packed Friday for the franchise.
This gels with what a report earlier today indicating the Pats and Butler’s opinions of what an extension would cost to keep him differ. Gilmore signed for five years and $65MM — which is quite a bit of a commitment for a team that doesn’t usually sign other teams’ UFAs to lavish long-term deals — while Butler is attached to a first-round tender ($3.91MM) he’s yet to sign.
No trade can occur until Butler signs his tender, but a trade commencing between the Patriots and a team willing to give Butler a big contract is more likely than a scenario where a team signs the 27-year-old former UDFA to an offer sheet and New England doesn’t match, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). Butler and his agent are free to try and create a trade/subsequent new contract, Volin notes (Twitter link).
The Patriots may not be especially keen on employing two corners on eight-figure-AAV deals considering their recent actions involving impending high-end UFAs. New England traded Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins, watching those talents’ second NFL teams retain them at steep prices. The Patriots have only two defenders making more than $5MM per year, and both play in the secondary — Gilmore and Devin McCourty ($9MM-plus AAV). This further points to a potential path out of New England for Butler. The Pats and Dont’a Hightower also remain engaged in discussions on a deal that would make the linebacker a third highly paid New England defender.
But for now, Butler is tethered to the defending Super Bowl champions. The Patriots can withdraw their tender offer to Butler on June 15 and pay him 110 percent of his 2016 salary ($600K), so there will be some movement in this looming impasse by then.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.