Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler is quite literally a restricted free agent with restricted options for his immediate NFL future.
The former Super Bowl hero and Pro bowl No. 1 cover man has only three years of NFL experience. So, the former undrafted rookie was tendered at the highest restricted free agent level this spring by the Patriots, meaning if he signs his tender he'll make $3.91 million in New England for 2017. But, he could shop his services to any team willing to risk its first-round pick to sign Butler to an offer sheet.
The only team that's hosted Butler on a free agent visit and shown even the potential to sign him made it clear at the NFL meetings on Wednesday that it is not interested in giving up its first-round pick to acquire the cornerback.
The Boston Globe passes along Saints coach Sean Payton making the team's plans regarding Butler quite clear. The Globe Patriots notebook looks at the injury issues that hindered newly-signed Patriots running back Rex Burkhead in his time in Cincinnati. The Globe also notes an NFL Network report that the Patriots inquired with the Seahawks about trading for Richard Sherman prior to New England signing Stephon Gilmore this offseason.
The Boston Herald wonders why other NFL teams continue to make trades with the Bill Belichick's Patriots, considering they generally get the worse end of the deals. The Herald ponders whether the familiarty between the Saints and Patriots might lead to a Butler trade. Panthers coach Ron Rivera has some words of advice via the Herald for his former player, new Patriots defense end Kony Ealy. Payton also broke down the reasoning why the Saints shipped talented, productive wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots via trade earlier this month. As he did at the Combine, Falcons coach Dan Quinn spent time at his breakfast with the media at the NFL meetings discussing his team's unbelievable collapse in the Super Bowl.
The* Providence Journal* says the Patriots gave the Saints an offer they couldn't refuse for Cooks, but now New Orleans refuses to give up the No. 11 pick for Butler.
ESPNBoston.com explains that the timing of Butler signing his restricted free agent tender, and therefor opening up the door for a trade, becomes key. ESPNBoston.com offers up a list of thoughts coming out of the NFL meetings, led off by Nick Caserio's impact in New England.
WEEI.com passes along Packers coach Mike McCarthy saying Martellus Bennett could be the best tight end in the NFL.
CSNNE.com says the case against Tom Brady playing to the age of 45 isn't as strong as one might think. Former Patriots linebacker and part-time analyst Jerod Mayo tells CSNNE.com that Cyrus Jones will probably be the Patriots most improved player in 2017.
NFL.com writes that Miami QB Brad Kaaya was pretty comfortable meeting Belichick at the school's pro day, maybe too comfortable. NFL.com's latest mock draft from Charlie Casserly has the Browns trading for a third first-round pick!
The Dallas Morning News describes how Belichick gives the Patriots an advantage over every other NFL team come draft time.