Sometimes you have to write an entire article about why the Patriots haven’t offered RFA Malcolm Butler a 1st round tender only to see this tweet right before you decide to publish the article to keep you humble.
The Patriots placed a first-round tender on Malcolm Butler today, per sources. It's worth $3.91M.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) March 7, 2017
For those who may not be well versed in the confusing world of NFL Free Agency, basically what this means is that by offering Malcolm Butler a first round tender it allows the Patriots the opportunity to match any contract offer Butler receives from an opposing team. In addition, if an opposing team were to swoop in and blow Butler away with an offer that the Patriots were not willing to match, New England would be compensated with a first-round draft pick from the team receiving Butler’s services. Ultimately, if no other NFL team extends Butler an offer or he declines to accept any of those offers, the Patriots will retain Butler at an affordable 3.91 million dollar salary for the 2017 season.
This is big news as it indicates the Patriots and Butler are not as close to a contract extension as previously thought. Though an extension can still be reached, the deadline to tag Butler with a first round tender was not until 4 pm on Thursday. This leads me to believe that the team may be tempering their expectation on reaching an extension and are willing to roll the dice by allowing Butler to reach restricted free agency. The only reason the team would have waited to the Thursday deadline was if they thought an extension was on the horizon, this move indicates it clearly is not.
There is a real possibility of a team willing to relinquish a 1st round pick in return for a top flight CB in Butler. Think about it this way, a team in the back end of the first round and looking to become a legitimate Super Bowl contender may believe that adding Butler to their secondary may be exactly what they need to get over the hump. A late first round pick is a small price to pay for an elite 27 year old CB and a Lombardi Trophy.
The Patriots cannot allow Butler to walk out the door. A 1st round draft pick as compensation would be nice, but with Logan Ryan all but gone, as he’s estimated to command 9-10 million a year on the open market, losing Butler would decimate New England’s cornerback core, leaving Eric Rowe, Justin Coleman, and Cyrus Jones to do the heavy lifting (shudder).
If Butler and the team are not able to hammer out an extension, cross your fingers and hope that losing a 1st round draft pick is enough to make teams gun shy in extending Butler a contract offer. If so, the Patriots will have truly snaked their way into securing one of the leagues best cornerback’s for another year at an incredibly affordable salary.