Patriots

Patriots

The NFL trade deadline is nearly upon us, and the question is: Will Malcolm Butler get the Jamie Collins treatment?  Could he be gone next week?

TOM E. CURRAN: It's easy to scoff at this possibility but don't forget how stunning it was last Halloween when the Patriots traded Collins, who player after player would describe as the team's best defender. Collins had a reduced role in his final game with the Patriots and had been remarkable in just one game -- the Week 3 win over Houston -- but nobody thought the last grains of sand were coming out of his Patriots hourglass. His situation does mirror Butler's -- both guys essentially in the last years of their contracts and approaching free agency with a desire (deservedly) to make a boatload of dough. But while Collins was becoming actively non-compliant, Butler hasn't been. He's had his down days but he never fails to compete. He hasn't -- in my limited view -- burdened his teammates with his business and he's not poop-stirring with the media. Additionally, he's their best corner. Still. How does the team get better in 2017 by trading him? He's going nowhere until March and then... he gone.
 

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MIKE GIARDI: Au contraire mon frère.  Butler has been a pain in the ass at times, and his private persona has been a lot different than his public one. But the combo platter of Gilmore's injury and poor play, coupled with Eric Rowe's groin, makes this a long shot at best. Whereas before all that, I'd say it would have definitely been on the table. Now Butler seems to be getting his on-field mojo back and that only adds to a difficult equation. Curious to see what he looks like when Gilmore returns. Suspect the Pats feel the same and would like that to happen this weekend. 

PHIL PERRY: We've said it since Stephon Gilmore put pen to paper on his new contract this offseason: Malcolm Butler is an obvious trade candidate, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Patriots dealt him before Halloween. It may not make them better in 2017, Tom, but we know that's not necessarily a pre-requisite for a trade in Bill Belichick's mind. Did the Patriots get better when Chandler Jones was dealt? What did the Patriots linebacker group look like when Jamie Collins was sent off? Addition by subtraction in those instances, you say? Maybe, but Mike is saying there are things bubbling under the surface with Butler where maybe the same logic could apply. And don't forget, Logan Mankins was dependable and as beloved as anyone in the Patriots locker room before he was moved. The Patriots eventually ended up more than fine after all of those moves (in fact they won the Super Bowls immediately following all three), but it couldn't be argued that they were better in the immediate aftermath. If Gilmore is healthy (he returned to practice on Wednesday), if Eric Rowe is expected to return for the stretch run (he's been doing light running as he rehabs, but his groin issue continues to linger and may have to be managed all season), and if Johnson Bademosi is all of a sudden a legitimate option, then I think there's a possibility Belichick tries to get something for Butler before losing him this offseason. They've done it before.