Malcolm Butler will make a lot more money in 2017 than he did in his first three seasons in the NFL. And the New England Patriots cornerback still might be underpaid.
The first-round tender value for a restricted free agent is $3.91 million this offseason, ESPN’s Field Yates reported Monday. The second-round tender is $2.746 million, and the low/original-round tender is $1.797 million.
The Patriots must decide how to tender restricted free agent Butler by the start of the new league year Thursday at 4 p.m.
It makes sense for the Patriots to give Butler a first-round tender. If another team doesn’t sign Butler to an offer sheet, that would mean paying him $3.91 million in 2017. That’s a significant raise from Butler’s $600,000 salary in 2016, but it’s still very cheap for a player of his caliber.
If another team signed Butler to an offer sheet, the Patriots would have the right to match. If they chose not to, the other team would have to give up a first-round pick to acquire him.
If the Patriots gave Butler a second-round tender, another team would be forced to give up that round pick to acquire the cornerback.
The Patriots almost certainly will not give Butler an original-round tender since, because he went undrafted, another team wouldn’t have to give up any compensation to acquire him should New England fail to match an offer sheet.
Offensive tackle Cameron Fleming and tight end Michael Williams also are restricted free agents.
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