As we speak, Malcolm Butler is on a visit in New Orleans to see Sean Payton and the Saints. In fact, Butler went to the facilities early yesterday for his visit and had dinner with the some members of the staff on Wednesday night. Butler seems to be intrigued at the possibility of playing closer to his hometown of Vicksburg, Mississippi, but some close to him remain certain he wants to be a Patriot for life.
Because of his upbringing and what he has been through, I have really grown fond of Butler, as I am sure most Patriots fans have. He came from nothing, built a name for himself, and singlehandedly won Super Bowl 49. From there, Butler has grown into one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and wants to be paid like one. Unfortunately, Butler is not an unrestricted free agent, so the Patriots were able to put a first round tender on the cornerback that will pay him $3.91 million in 2017. Butler could, and probably will, be given offer sheets by other teams, but the Patriots would obtain their first round pick if they lose the player. So to recap, the Patriots can match any offer given to Butler, give Butler up for the opposing team's highest and original draft pick, or sign Malcolm Butler to the tender and either keep the player or work out a trade with another team.
With me so far? Good.
So lets get back to the matter at hand: Malcolm Butler and the New Orleans Saints. To be blunt, I think the Saints are a crappy franchise. I appreciate the support they have given the Patriots during Deflategate and always cheering on their buddies from the AFC, but the Saints are a poorly run franchise.
Some try to forget that the Saints have essentially zero cap space to sign Butler and they refuse to address their defense while Drew Brees' career dwindles. Some forget their general manager, Mickey Loomis, is absolutely TERRIBLE at his job.
Furthermore, Malcolm Butler should look at the NFC South as a whole and realize the type of receivers he will be facing almost every other week. Instead of going up against scrubs on the Jets and Bills, Butler will be facing the likes of Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons, Kelvin Benjamin of the Carolina Panthers, and DeSean Jackson of the Tampa Bay Bucs. Not only will the receivers be better, but the quarterbacks will also have a leg up on the likes of Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Jameis Winston is slowly becoming one of the better younger quarterbacks in the NFL, Matt Ryan is the reigning NFL MVP, and Cam Newton is one of the more dynamic duel-threat quarterbacks you will see.
I am not saying Malcolm Butler is not an elite defender. I think he his. In fact, I think he is a top-5 cornerback in the NFL. However, all of these receivers are longer and stronger than Malcolm Butler. Sheer will only gets you so far in this league. I believe the Patriots also see this deficiency in Butler, as they brought in Stephon Gilmore and play the NFC South this year. With the longer Gilmore, Butler, if he stays with the Patriots, will be going up against #2 receivers and could cement himself with the likes of Seattle's Richard Sherman and Washington's Josh Norman.
The Patriots don't want Butler to leave, but they aren't going to pay him like an unrestricted free agent. The NFL is a business, and paying a player at least $8 million more when they do not need to is simply not smart football. If Butler can put his pride aside for one more season, he could hit the open market as a top cornerback that has won perhaps three Super Bowls.
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