New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler was woefully underpaid this season, taking home a mere $600,000 in salary in the third year of his rookie contract.
Understandably, the second-team All-Pro wants a raise.
Butler is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the NFL league year opens next Thursday, and CSNNE’s Mike Giardi reported Tuesday the Patriots’ top corner “remains dissatisfied” with his current contract situation and has been for quite some time.
How will the Patriots proceed with Butler, who was on the field for 96.6 percent of New England’s defensive snaps this season? Well, they have a few options. The most likely for them is to tender his contract at a first-round level, meaning a team would need to fork over a first-round draft pick in order to sign Butler away from the Patriots.
A first-round tender would pay Butler close to $4 million next season — a bargain for a player of his caliber but still a significant pay increase.
Butler and the Patriots also could come to terms on a long-term contract extension that would keep the 26-year-old in Foxboro beyond 2017. ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss offered some insight into those negotiations Wednesday.
“The sides got pretty far down the line on an extension last offseason, so there’s a foundation on which to build. Now that Butler has put together another solid season, it should strengthen his negotiating position.
“Sometimes when talks on an extension break down in the latter stages, there can be a cooling-off period between the sides before the negotiations spark up again. Now is a good time to spark them back up again, as the Patriots have an abundance of salary-cap space and Butler — who turns 27 on Thursday — is set to hit the restricted free-agent market March 9.
“Thus, time is of the essence, and the head start from last year should help.”
Serving as the Patriots’ No. 1 cornerback for the second consecutive season, Butler led the team with four interceptions and 17 pass breakups.