The Saints are hosting Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler on his visit today and there is “momentum toward finalizing a deal before he leaves,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Butler, of course, is a restricted free agent who has been assigned the first-round tender.
As I detailed earlier this week, there are a few potential outcomes that sprout come from the Saints’ interest. The seemingly obvious scenario of the Saints actually signing Butler to an offer sheet is probably the most unlikely of the bunch. Butler is an excellent player, but it would be surprising to see the Saints give him top cornerback money and sacrifice the No. 11 overall pick.
If Patriots coach Bill Belichick is willing to play ball (and, perhaps, circumvent the collective bargaining agreement a bit in the process), the two sides could hammer out a trade in which the Patriots sign-and-trade Butler to New Orleans. A potential deal could see the Patriots recoup the No. 32 overall pick they shipped to the Saints in the Brandin Cooks trade. That, more or less, would result in a swap of Butler and Cooks with the Saints also climbing up from No. 118 overall to No. 103.
Of course, the Patriots could also change course and get serious about a multi-year deal to keep Butler tied down and happy. With a duo of Stephon Gilmore and Butler, the Pats would have one of the best cornerback pairs in the NFL.
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