Lombardi thinks Butler will end up playing for the Patriots in 2017

Lombardi thinks Butler will end up playing for the Patriots in 2017

For all that has been said about Malcolm Butler in the last week -- where he will play, what he will be paid next season, and what he could be paid beyond next season -- one thing we don't know right now is exactly how much he wants. 

We may have an idea. He may want at least what Stephon Gilmore was paid. He may want more. If he wanted to guarantee himself some money so as not to risk injury in 2017, he may be willing to play for less than that.

What does Butler want? That will be key in determining where he plays next season. 

If he's willing to take slightly less than top-of-the-market money in order to be paid one year before he hits unrestricted free agency, then he and the Saints could perhaps agree to a deal that would facilitate a trade. (An offer sheet, it seems, is off the table because the Saints will probably be unwilling to give their No. 11 overall pick to the Patriots and give him a long-term deal.)

If Butler won't settle for anything less than what Gilmore got, then he'll probably be disappointed. And he'll probably end up back in New England.

Even if the Saints are able to hang on to the No. 11 pick, dealing away No. 32 -- which they received from the Patriots in the Brandin Cooks trade -- may be too pricey for them if they're also going to have to pay Butler a huge sum of money on  long-term deal as well. If the Patriots aren't willing to settle for a return that doesn't include a first-rounder, then a deal would be stonewalled. 

In that situation, Butler would return for the Patriots, play on his first-round tender, and wait to hit unrestricted free agency in 2018.

It seems unlikely now, but if Butler and the Saints can't agree to a deal that satisfies both of their needs, then it could happen. It's what former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi believes will happen.

"Doesn't make any sense" for the Saints to give up No. 11 and sign Butler to a high-priced deal, he told The Ringer's NFL Show. "At that pick, the Saints could draft a corner and end up having a cheaper player . . . We know for Malcolm Butler to get traded, it's going to have to be something less than that pick."

Lombardi added: "Why pay Malcolm Butler $13, $14 million a year, sign him to a long-term deal, and then have to turn around a draft pick when you're basically buying a 27-year-old player? You'd be better off drafting a young corner and hopefully developing him."

This year's draft class is one of the deepest in recent memory at the cornerback position so if the Saints hold on to both of their first-round picks, they could potentially get two immediate contributors to turn around their defense while Drew Brees remains one of the best quarterbacks in the game.

In order for them to give up a young, cost-effective player in the draft for Butler, the deal Butler agrees to would probably have to be somewhat affordable. Or at least less than top-of-the-market.

For Butler, that may not be enough. 

"I think Malcolm Butler signs his tender, goes to New England, and puts the onus on New England," Lombardi said. "Play great. I'll make a huge deal next year. I'll be 28 next March, and then I'll make a huge deal on the open market. New England's not going to franchise him . . . "

"For me, the Saints are trying to improve their defense by cashing in Brandin Cooks to get more picks, and then they're going to use those picks to hopefully fix their defense."

That would mean no Butler in New Orleans. Which would mean -- unless other teams come along with an enticing offer for both Butler and the Patriots -- he'll be back in New England. As awkward as that might be.

Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots running back Danny Woodhead has announced his retirement after 10 years in the NFL.

The 33-year-old took to Instagram to make it official.

10 years! Wow, God had crazy plans for a small little kid from North Platte, NE! It’s been a wild ride and feel so blessed He allowed me to do what I loved for so long. But now it’s time to say goodbye to the game I love. First, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Without Him my career wouldn’t have been possible. He blessed me with the gifts and He paved the way. All I had to do was follow His plans for my life, and His plans were crazy awesome! Next, I want to thank my wife who has been by my side since freshman year of high school. She has been a rock through all the ups and downs. Sis, Willy, Mae Mae, and Hopie your daddy is going to be home a ton more and I can’t wait! Thanks to my Dad and Mom for always supporting me and showing me that God is first, then everything else will fall into place. Ben, Joel, and Anna thanks for preparing me for the NFL in our backyard games growing up. The dreaded in-laws Steve and Suzie for always being there for me. Chris Gittings (agent) you’re the best and thankful your my brother/uncle! Thank you Jets, Patriots, Chargers, and Ravens! Thanks to all my head coaches (Bob Zohner, Brad Smith, Bill O’Boyle, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan, Bill Belichick, Mike McCoy, and John Harbaugh) who believed in me! To my rbs coaches (coach skiles, coach reiners, Jimmy Raye, A Lynn, Ivan, Ollie, Ridge, and Thomas) thanks for putting up with me. Thanks to all my teammates from high school till now. Without you guys I never would’ve become who I was as a player. To all my olinemen, you guys deserve the credit for anything that I received credit for. I thank you for helping make my career. To all the trainers, team docs, strength coaches, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, body gurus thanks for making sure I was on the field. To all the people who made my life easier at the facility (ops, pr, equipment staff, cafe workers, custodians) thanks and your work doesn’t go unnoticed. And how could i forget all my fans?! You’re the best and have always felt the love and support! I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few but know that I’m thankful for everything everyone has done on my journey.

A post shared by Danny Woodhead (@teamwoody39) on

Thursday, it was reported the Patriots reached out to Woodhead for a possible reunion. 

The last two seasons have been challenging for him, as he dealt with season-ending injuries in both 2016 with the Chargers and 2017 with the Ravens.

Woodhead finishes his career with 2,238 yards rushing, 2,698 yards receiving, 15 rushing touchdowns and 17 receiving touchdowns.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: C's win despite injuries, Pats make additions

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: C's win despite injuries, Pats make additions

1:20 - Despite throwing a depleted roster out there, the Celtics were able to get back in the win column vs. the Magic. Michael Holley and Tommy Heinsohn break down the win.

6:17 - Finally, the Patriots have done something! On Friday night it was reported that New England signed defensive end Adrian Clayborn as well as running back Jeremy Hill. Tom Curran, Alex Giaimo and Ben Volin discuss the impact these additions will have on the team.

11:05 - While the Celtics were able to pull out the win on Friday, the team did announce that Marcus Smart is expected to miss six to eight weeks after undergoing thumb surgery. A. Sherrod Blakely expresses his optimism on Smart’s return for the playoffs.