Just when you resign yourself that the Patriots are going to be quiet on Day 1 of free agency, something like today happens. First, the team is reportedly signing Bills CB Stephon Gilmore to a 5-year deal in the neighborhood of $14 million dollars per year. Now comes the news that the Patriots are talking a trade with New Orleans with Malcolm Butler and Brandin Cooks being dealt straight up.
Dianna Russini of ESPN was the first to report that the player for a player deal is being discussed and after the Gilmore news, it isn’t surprising.
It is just speculation at this point, but like the Wes Welker/Danny Amendola situation, the Patriots no doubt had a backup plan. There have been rumors that Butler’s agent wants him to be paid like an unrestricted free agent. Butler may have been refusing to sign his 1-year tender, so Bill Belichick pulled the deal with Gillmore out of his hat and now they’re trying to trade Butler for Cooks, who they coveted anyway.
The Saints need defensive help especially in their secondary and Butler would be an immediate upgrade. Cooks would make an already potent Patriots offense even scarier with a player that can go deep.
The sticking point is that Butler would have to either sign his tender with the Saints or do a long-term deal with New Orleans.
Again, it is just speculation here, but it seems the relationship has soured with Butler and the Patriots. Obviously trying to deal him signals that there is no way that the team is expecting that any deal can get done between the two sides and that Butler, will not sign his tender with New England.
If the Patriots make this deal and Logan Ryan leaves via free agency as is expected, it would leave New England with Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones, Jonathan Jones, and Justin Coleman at cornerback.