Tom Brady is obviously getting a lot of attention for the New England Patriots ahead of free agency, and deservedly so. He is arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time and for the first time in his 20 professional seasons, he will be an unrestricted free agent.
But the Patriots have plenty of other key free agents set to hit the market this offseason as well. And one of them is defensive lineman Adam Butler, who is set to be a restricted free agent in 2020.
Butler, a former undrafted player out of Vanderbilt, has been with the Patriots for three seasons and has played a key role as a pass rushing defensive tackle for their defense. Last season, he logged a career-high six sacks for the Patriots and had five pass defenses as well.
It was anticipated that the Patriots would try to keep Butler, but now there's clarity on how they may do so. According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, the Patriots are expected to place a second-round tender on Butler ahead of restricted free agency.
When the Patriots tender an offer to restricted free-agent DT Adam Butler, the expectation is that it will be the 2nd-round level. The reason: Butler entered the NFL undrafted, so if he was given the low tender, and signed to an offer sheet, there would be no compensation to NE.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) March 13, 2020
As Reiss points out, giving Butler the second-round tender was the Patriots' most logical course of action for the team to try to retain him.
In restricted free agency, there are three types of tenders a team can place on a player. The first is a first-round tender. This is the most lucrative of all three tenders and it guarantees that if a player leaves a team in free agency, the team receives a first-round pick from whatever team signed the player.
The other tenders work the same way. The second-round tender is a bit less valuable monetarily than the first, but so too is the compensation that comes back if a player leaves (it would be a second-round pick).
And the final tender is an original-round tender which, as Reiss notes, would make no sense for the Patriots as it pertains to Butler because Butler was undrafted. And thus, if he was tendered as an original rounder and did sign elsewhere on a deal the Patriots didn't want to match, they would gain no compensation for losing him.
The second-round tender essentially guarantees one of three outcomes. Butler will either be with the Patriots for one more year, the team will get a second-round pick for him, or they can match whatever deal another squad may attempt to sign him to. That's smart business for the Patriots as they look to keep one of their key rotational linemen.
And as @PatsCap noted on Twitter, the likely value of a second-round tender this season will likely be about $3.29 million. The Patriots will likely be fine paying that sum to keep Butler around.
Considering the dearth of activity that the NFL usually has on their restricted free agent market, it seems likely that Butler will return to New England in 2020. It will be interesting to see if the 6-foot-5, 300-pound can continue his upward trajectory during his age-26 season.