A source with knowledge of conversations between the Patriots and Malcolm Butler tells me contract-extension talks were "brief," and the number he was offered during the season didn't change much once the season was over.
PATRIOTS FREE AGENCY: Curran on Pats' plans, plus position-by-position breakdown
The Pats are certainly not cap-strapped. They have around $55 million to spend after locking up James Develin to a modest deal. With all this cash, it was easy to think Bill Belichick and company would prioritize getting contracts done with unrestricted free agent Dont’a Hightower and Butler, a restricted free agent.
Instead, the Pats placed a first-round tender on Butler and are letting Hightower gauge his value on the open market. Past history says the Hightower strategy can work. (See Devin McCourty after the 2014 Super Bowl.) But Butler is in water that has rarely been treaded -- Logan Mankins sat out the first eight weeks of the 2010 season after the team tendered him a contract as a restricted free agent -- and when you consider his displeasure with not having any extension or raise given following the 2015-16 season (which I have reported on since last spring), might there be a situation brewing in Foxboro?
Butler was forced to sit out a week of OTAs in the spring of 2015 but since then has been the model citizen, never missing a day without team permission. He was a top-10 cornerback that year and arguably a top-5 player this past season. Will he be bold enough to sit out and demand a new deal or trade? Or will a team swoop in and make an offer and force the Pats to either match or let Butler walk for a first-round pick in this draft? Tune in to find out.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's potential retirement has been the main storyline of the team's offseason workouts. After telling Oprah Winfrey in an interview that he is thinkning about retirement more than he used to, the five-time Super Bowl champion wrote a cryptic response to an ESPN Instagram post.
The photo contained the full retirement quote from the Oprah interview, while Brady's account sent a response saying, "Cuarenta y cinco," which means 45 in Spanish. Brady turns 41 on August 3rd, which would give him at least four more years under center for New England if he wants to play to 45 years old.
There is also the chance that the response alludes to a potential contract extension where Brady could want $45 million in potential negotiations. Brady reportedly wanted a new contract back in April, as he is signed through 2019 making a $14 million base salary that ranks fifth among NFL quarterbacks.
According to MMQB's Albert Breer on Monday, the New England Patriots reportedly talked to four "trusted" teams about a potential trade for the two-time Super Bowl champion pass catcher.
The reported teams were the Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers. The Lions are led by former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as their head coach. New England's former director of pro scouting, Bob Quinn, is Detroit's general manager. Mike Vrabel, the head coach of the Titans, won three Super Bowls in New England as a linebacker and former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien is the head coach in Houston. San Francisco was New England's trade partner in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade last season.
Gronkowski did not commit to returning to the Patriots until a few days before the draft, and also missed most of the team's voluntary offseason workouts. The Patriots and the tight end are reportedly working on a contract extension.