That the Patriots placed the first-round tender on Malcolm Butler is not a shock. As a restricted free agent and one of the game's best corners, it was expected he would be tendered at the highest level.
What is interesting is that, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss, the Patriots and their 27-year-old corner have had "no talks on [an] extension at this time."
Before we look more closely at why that might be the case, let's first dig into what the first-round tender means for Butler and the Patriots.
-- Should Butler move forward on the tender, he'll be under contract for 2017 and be paid a salary of $3.91 million. Butler made $600,000 in base salary in 2016.
-- Butler is available to be signed to an offer sheet by other teams, but the Patriots will have the right to match the offer sheet to retain him.
-- Should the Patriots opt not to match any offer sheet Butler receives, they would be awarded a first-round pick from Butler's new club.
That there hasn't been progress made toward an extension between the Patriots and their No. 1 corner is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser, but perhaps the Patriots are approaching Butler's situation the way that they've approached contract talks with other players seeking new deals to remain in New England.
What they've essentially told the likes of Dont'a Hightower, Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon and a host of others set to hit free agency has been consistent: Go discover what your value is on the market and let us know what you find.
Butler's market as a restricted free agent will be vastly different -- and perhaps non-existent, thanks to the first-round tender that cornerback-needy teams could very well consider prohibitive -- but the negotiating theory may be the same. By holding off on contract talks to this point, the Patriots might be telling Butler to see what the market will bear, knowing they'll have a chance to match whatever offers come his way.
If there are no offer sheets extended, and if the Patriots and Butler can't agree to a long-term deal on their own, then the West Alabama product will be scheduled to play for a shade under $4 million in 2017. That's a hefty raise for him, but still a significant bargain for the team.