According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler has signed his restricted free agent tender with the team.
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The signing means that the Pats could either keep the player for $3.91 million in the 2017 season or trade him to another team, with the Saints a possible destination given his restricted free agent visit with them this offseason.
Yates notes that a trade is “still on the table.” Butler could not be traded without a contract signed, so Tuesday's development could accelarate a potential deal with another club, perhaps ahead of next week's draft.
The Patriots traded their first-round pick (32nd overall) and a third-round pick (No. 103) earlier this offseason in a deal that landed them receiver Brandin Cooks and the 118th overall pick. New Orleans owns its own first-round pick (No. 11 overall) and therefore has no shortage of assets to ship New England's way should they choose to trade for the player.
Butler and the Patriots have struggled to come to terms on a longterm deal in recent years. Rather than give Butler a big contract earlier than they needed to, the team signed free agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who is six months younger than the 27-year-old Butler, to a five-year, $65 million contract.
The team also lost cornerback Logan Ryan to the Titans in free agency.
In annoucing the signing of Butler, the Patriots also announced the signing of exclusive rights free agent Matt Lengel and the release of offensive lineman Tre' Jackson.
Source: Patriots CB Malcolm Butler has signed his restricted free agent tender. A trade is still on the table.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) April 18, 2017