The Patriots have given restricted free agent Malcolm Butler a 1st round tender valued at around $3.91-million (per Jeff Howe). For those unfamiliar with the restricted free agent process, this means if nothing happens for the rest of the offseason, Malcolm Butler will play for the Patriots in 2017 for $3.91-million. And if a team does make an offer to Butler and he agrees to sign the offer sheet, the Patriots have the right to match it. Hurray right?
So wrong. You have bad takes and you're a bad person. Sad!
What this really means is that the Patriots don't believe they can come to an agreement on a long term deal with Butler before the Thursday deadline. Now a deal still could get done, but it seems unlikely now that the Pats have placed this tender on him.
Now at this point you might be thinking that this is still ok because anyone that might want him has to give up a first round pick and that might make teams wary about signing him. And to that I refer you back to my last response: wrong.
If you were an NFL GM (congrats on the new job) would you trade a 1st rounder for Malcolm Butler? Probably right? So if you're the Falcons, Steelers, Packers, Raiders, Giants, or Dolphins - all teams with needs at CB and mid-20s or worse first round picks - why not give Malcolm Butler an offer sheet anywhere between 10 and 15 million dollars per year?
Trumaine Johnson is going to make $16.7-million on the franchise tag for LA this year and he's not even a real #1 corner yet. So if you could get a top 5 - minimum top 10 - corner in the league for around $12-million per year, wouldn't you? All you'd be giving up is a mid-20s pick that doesn't have a ton of value. Best case scenario you get a stud left corner. Worst case scenario the Patriots match your offer sheet and you force them to shell out a ton of cash and possibly cause them to let other key players - like Dont'a Hightower, Logan Ryan or Alan Branch to name a few - to leave.
It's important to understand that this isn't a death sentence for Malcolm Butler's Patriots career. If I had to bet, I'd say he'll still be in New England next season. But this is a bad sign. We all know this defense won't look exactly the same as it did last year. Players leave all the time and the Patriots can always rely on the next man up. But if Malcolm Butler is one of the players who leaves in 2017, I don't think there's a next man up that can measure up to him.