Malcolm Butler will forever live in Patriots history as a hero.
After all, it was his interception on a shocking Russell Wilson pass attempt that sealed New England’s victory in Super Bowl XLIX.
In 2016, Butler became the Patriots’ primary lockdown corner and recorded four interceptions and 63 total tackles along with 17 passes defensed.
However, the 5’11”, 190-pounder was exposed at certain times of the year, particularly against taller wide receivers who were able to use their size advantage to exploit him.
That led Bill Belichick to sign cornerback Stephon Gilmore, formerly of the Buffalo Bills, to a five-year, $60 million contract a few days ago once the NFL’s free agency period began.
Gilmore, at 6’1”, is regarded as a more physically-capable cornerback, thus making it obvious that Butler’s time in New England was coming to an end in the near future.
It was Gilmore’s signing that apparently angered Butler, according to CSNNE’s Michael Giardi.
Watching another player get elite money at your position must never be a good feeling for any NFL player.
According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Butler’s agent is actively trying to find a team that’s willing to surrender a first-round pick in order to sign the cornerback.
Canfora reported that New England would make a deal happen if a first-rounder was in play. Remember that New England now no longer has a first or second round pick due to their trades for Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy.
But, there’s a major part of the story that is still unknown: how much money other teams are willing to pay Butler in an extended deal.
If you were wondering whether or not Butler’s agent is acting legally within NFL rules by contacting teams, it appears as though he is.
Since he’s a restricted free agent, it’s important to note that the Patriots are allowed to match any offer sheet that Butler is given by another team. Also, if they elect not to match the offer, they’d receive compensation. If a trade happens, Butler must sign his current tender with the Patriots first.
In search of a lucrative, long-term contract, it seems as though Butler suspects or has been informed by the Patriots that he will not receive such a deal with the organization. In all, it looks like it will be a messy end to what was a very successful few years in Foxborough for the corner.
Anything can happen of course, but seeing Butler in a Patriots uniform in Week 1 next season seems unimaginable given this news.
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