Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler has signed his restricted free agent tender, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. Because he was tendered at the first-round level, Butler is now scheduled to earn $3.91MM for the 2017 season.
Rival teams had until April 21 to sign Butler to an offer sheet, but any club that did so would have had to sacrifice a first-round pick to New England. The Saints were the only team that expressed any serious interest in signing Butler, as they met with the 27-year-old and discussed the parameters of a long-term deal. However, New Orleans wasn’t willing to give up the No. 11 overall pick in exchange for Butler.
Butler, can still be traded, and in fact had to sign his tender before he was allowed to be dealt. The Saints still have interest in trading for Butler, but the Patriots might place a draft-day deadline on talks, as they may not be interested in acquiring 2018 picks as compensation.
For all practical purposes, Butler’s signing of his RFA tender doesn’t change all that much, as he is still on the trade block. Had Butler not inked the tender by June 15, however, New England could have slashed his 2017 salary to just $600K.
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