Malcolm Butler‘s camp and the Saints continue to exchange proposals about a potential offer sheet for the fourth-year cornerback. The sides at this point are not far apart on terms, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).
The communication is unfolding entirely between the Saints and Butler, per Rapoport, who adds (Twitter link) the Patriots have not had discussions with the Saints — well, at least on the Butler front — or the cornerback and won’t until he signs his RFA tender.
Butler is a restricted free agent on whom the Patriots placed a first-round tender worth $3.91MM. The Saints are reportedly “enamored” with Butler, according to Michael Giardi of CSNNE.com, who also notes the sides have the parameters of a deal mostly in place. Guaranteed money’s an issue, per Giardi.
A Saints offer sheet that the Patriots don’t match would result in New Orleans’ No. 11 overall pick going to New England. Of course, Butler could sign his $3.91MM tender, and the teams could discuss a different exchange. Sending a pick that high for a 27-year-old talent might be a bit extreme, with Butler wanting top-10 cornerback money, but the Saints are serious about upgrading one of the league’s worst defenses as they showed with the Brandin Cooks trade. They acquired the Pats’ No. 32 overall pick for Cooks, who won’t turn 24 until September.
Butler has until June 15 to sign the RFA tender, which the Patriots can withdraw on that date and pay Butler 110 percent of his 2016 salary ($600K). The former UDFA visited New Orleans last week.
The Saints endured a rough 2016 at cornerback, with key cogs going down with injuries. They have Delvin Breaux, who will make just $619K in the final season of his three-year deal, along with P.J. Williams tentatively slated as their top corners. Both missed extensive time due to injuries last season. Breaux and Butler both played well in full-season breakouts in 2015, but Butler continued that pace last year while the 27-year-old Breaux played in only six games.
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