The New Orleans Saints hosted restricted free agent Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots earlier this week. New Orleans is contemplating giving the Pro Bowl cornerback an offer, at which point it would have to then either yield its first-round pick or work out a trade with the Patriots.
Momentum seems to be building on this front. And Saints head coach Sean Payton did not squash rumors about a deal potentially being completed with his recent comments about the Super Bowl hero.
“You know, coming out of a small town in Mississippi and through junior college and into West Alabama, it’s pretty amazing,” Payton told Xtra 360 radio in San Diego on Friday (h/t ESPN.com). “And the first three years he’s had in this league, shoot, he’s had a tremendous amount of success, winning two Super Bowls in three years and being a big part of a team that’s accomplished a lot.
An alum of West Alabama, Butler went un-drafted back in 2014 and signed as a free agent with the Patriots. He would go on and start one game as a rookie, eventually creating the game-winning turnover in the team’s Super Bowl XLIX win over the Seattle Seahawks. Then in 2015, Butler jumped on to the scene even more.
He recorded 67 tackles, nine passes defended and two interceptions in 16 games (all starts) en route to earning his first Pro Bowl appearance.
Needless to say, Butler’s ascension up the ranks of NFL cornerbacks was about as shocking as it gets. But Payton himself seems to think there’s a specific reason for this.
“So I’d say he’s humble, but when you watch the tape, he plays with a chip on his shoulder,” Payton continued.
One could easily understand why New Orleans would be interested in Butler. Its pass defense has been absolutely atrocious of late, ranking in the bottom two each of the past two seasons.
It just remains to be seen whether a trade can be worked out with New England. If not, New Orleans could steal Butler from the defending champs for the 11th pick in the upcoming draft. If Payton’s comments are any indication, that might actually be on the table.