This Thursday, Malcolm Butler will visit the Saints to talk about a potential trade or the Saints signing the offer sheet for Butler. Butler’s tender includes a first round pick and $3.9 million, the first round pick is what has kept teams away from Butler. There have been speculation that the Saints would give up the 11th overall pick in the offer sheet; but in this case they would probably give them back the Cooks trade pick (32nd overall).
This whole frenzy began when the Patriots paid $15 million a year to Stephon Gilmore. While Butler may be jealous of that contract, the Patriots also told Butler awhile back that they would never pay over $10 million+ for a CB. Once Butler heard about Gilmore’s contract, he wanted to be paid that kind of money; whether it was from the Patriots or elsewhere.
So here we are, Butler has had enough and wants to get paid. The Patriots have $34 million in cap space left, which is more than enough to sign him to that big contract he wants. So what’s holding them up? Nothing if you think you look into it.
Their top two priorities were Hightower and Butler this off-season, no question. Reports are saying that Hightower is leaning towards re-signing with the Patriots. So let’s set up a scenario that Hightower signs for $16-18 million a year kind of deal; that gives the Patriots around $18-20 million in cap space; maybe more depending on the contract Hightower signs. Butler can now ask for a Gilmore contract if he so pleases.
Now let’s take a look at the Saints for a minute; as of right now they have roughly $12 million in cap space left to spend in free agency. They entered free agency with roughly $27 million, not a whole lot to spend. They need to keep around $5-7 million for draft picks, unless they trade picks. So putting into that perspective they also have around $5-7 million in cap space to spend. So even if the Saints offer a contract to Butler, the max they’ll be willing to spend on him is around $5-6 million, at best.
To Belichick, that’s nothing; Saints give Butler a three year, $6 million and that the Patriots have to match that? That’s smart by Belichick, letting the Saints do him a favor…again. Now keep in mind that this was a scenario that could possibly happen, in this case that’s best case scenario. Worst case scenario: a team with more available cap space talks to Butler. The Saints will likely try to trade for Butler, seeing how they don’t have the cap space to give him a contract that he wants. If that fails, then maybe the Patriots will give him the contract that he wants, once we know the Hightower decision.
Today will be an interesting day for the Patriots; as Hightower is planned to make his decision today. As for Butler, we may not find out his fate today, but possibly tomorrow when he goes to visit the Saints.