Report: Potential Malcolm Butler trade to Saints could ‘still go either way’

Malcolm Butler

It’s no secret that Malcolm Butler and the New Orleans Saints have mutual interest in a trade that would get the cornerback out of New England. And while it’s widely assumed a deal will come together that will ship Butler from the Patriots to Saints, one report indicates it’s not a given.

“A Saints-Patriots deal for CB Malcolm Butler is still very much in play, but a source described it as a process that could still go either way,” wrote ESPN’s Mike Triplett on Monday. “The first factor is Butler and the Saints agreeing on a long-term contract. Nothing else can happen if they’re not on the same page there, but last week’s visit was a good sign of their mutual interest.”

That Butler feels spurned by the Patriots is abundantly clear. It was reported he received an offer that would average around $7 million per year during the 2016 season. In that same report, it was indicated that New England told him no cornerback would be paid more than $10 million per year (more on that here).

Then the Pats signed Stephon Gilmore in free agency to a deal worth $13 million per year on average with $40 million guaranteed.

Not surprisingly, that’s when the Butler to Saints trade chatter really started heating up. Then Butler visited with New Orleans, a sure sign he is very interested in playing for the Saints. Afterwards, Saints head coach Sean Payton gushed over the player, noting that Butler plays with a big chip on his shoulder.

The Saints desperately need help in their defensive secondary. Butler is a very good corner who would undoubtedly give that unit a boost. However, New Orleans isn’t exactly loaded with cap space and still has other needs, plus it needs to sign draft picks. So working out a long-term deal isn’t just a matter of satisfying Butler’s desired yearly average.

It’s going to be interesting to see if the two parties can come to an agreement. One thing we know for certain is that Bill Belichick and the Patriots are going to drive a hard bargain, which could further complicate matters.