The New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints have publicly spoken about a potential Malcolm Butler deal in consecutive days.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Monday that New England isn’t planning on trading the cornerback. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Tuesday that New Orleans was “kicking the tires” on Butler when he came for a visit earlier this month, via The New Orleans Advocate’s Nick Underhill.
“We’re kicking the tires, I guess is the best way to describe that,” Loomis told the media. “We’ll see how that process works.”
Butler, a restricted free agent who has yet to sign the first-round tender offered to him by the Patriots, also has yet to receive an offer sheet from the Saints. That’s probably because New Orleans would be forced to give up its 11th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft — something the Saints likely are not inclined to do — if the Patriots elected not to match.
So the Saints and Patriots might be at a standstill for now, especially since they can’t even discuss a potential trade — if New England is willing to deal Butler, that is — until he signs his tender.
If the Patriots are unwilling to trade Butler, and if the Saints are unwilling to give up their 11th overall pick, then the cornerback will be back in New England next season. It potentially would have been helpful if Patriots coach Bill Belichick talked this week, since he also serves as the team’s general manager. He could have officially put the kibosh on any potential Butler trade talks.
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