New England Patriots fans hoping Malcolm Butler would return in 2017 might have been granted their wish Thursday night.
The New Orleans Saints selected Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore, the top available cornerback, 11th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Saints now have Lattimore and Delvin Breaux as their starting cornerbacks, lessening their need for Butler. They also used the 32nd overall pick on Wisconsin offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, so they have less capital to acquire Butler if they still covet him.
Butler is under contract with the Patriots on a one-year, first-round tender worth $3.91 million, but rumors connecting him and the Saints date to early March when the NFL league year began. Butler visited the Saints while he still was a restricted free agent, but the team elected not to give up the 11th pick by signing him to an offer sheet.
Butler will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2017 season if he and the Patriots don’t reach a long-term contract extension first.
Butler still could be traded to another team, and the Houston Texans reportedly were interested in him for a second-round pick. The Texans traded up from No. 25 overall to No. 12 on Thursday to pick Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson in the first round.
Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images
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