Malcolm Butler signs tender with Pats; can now be traded

Malcolm Butler signs tender with Pats; can now be traded

The New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots, if they so choose, can officially discuss trade terms for cornerback Malcolm Butler.

Butler could remain with the Patriots for one more season before becoming an unrestricted free agent after this, his fourth season. Signing the $3.91 million tender meant that the team can now talk with interested clubs for a potential trade involving the two-time Super Bowl champion. Signing the RFA tender was the first step in a trade process that now could accelerate over the next week before the National Football League draft. In fact, I know we're not going to do that.

The New England Patriots were shopping backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo early in the offseason for a pair of high draft picks, and while no deal has come close to happening. Barring an extension, or trade and subsequent extension, Butler is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the 2017 season.

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While the news and reports surrounding Butler is likely far from over, the Patriots made it clear Tuesday that Super Bowl LI hero running back James White is in the franchise's long-term plans. There's also a decent chance they make a trade before the draft in hopes of getting back into Day 1.

The Pats now do not pick until the top of the third round (No. 72 overall).

As of now, Butler figures to line up opposite Gilmore in what should be one of the NFL's most talented secondaries, if not the best.

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