For some, this is welcome news. For many of you, it may be concerning. But Malcolm Butler signed his free-agent tender and the New Orleans Saints have likely begun trade talks.
Some reporters speculated over the course of this whole Butler drama that the New Orleans Saints and the Patriots have long since had a handshake deal in place over the trade. There was more than some speculation that the Brandin Cooks deal would have involved Malcolm Butler had Butler signed his tender early enough. Whether or not any of that is true is, at this point, meaningless. The Saints are interested in Butler. What matters is the compensation.
Will it be the 32nd pick? The 42nd? Could it possibly be the 76? The hopeful realist is looking towards that 42nd pick. No doubt 32 is the Patriots’ goal — Canal Street Chronicles suggested that the pick was simply a placeholder for Butler who had not yet signed his tender — but most Saints fans don’t like the idea. I can’t help but agree that the 42nd pick seems more than fair value.
In fact, I would — and many already have — go so far as to suggest that the 42nd pick could warrant another player in the deal. Dion Lewis, perhaps. He would fill a need in this Saints roster. He would fit in very well.
Either way, we’ll find out soon enough.
The Saints are in “win-now” mode. They don’t know how long Drew Brees’s window is. But they know that once he’s gone, they’ll need a few years or some wild luck to be relevant again. And if the Saints want to compete for a title in 2017, Butler is by a huge margin the easiest way to get that done. The last time the Saints had two good cornerbacks, they had Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter. Remember them?
I understand the counter-argument. Butler is older than a draft pick, would run out of steam sooner and will cost the Saints a pretty penny in 2018. That’s all very true. But the Saints are decently young on defense, especially in their secondary. And they have the money to spend.
The one argument I don’t understand and absolutely reject: that a high draft pick will be a better player than Butler. Yes, any draft pick could turn into Derrelle Revis. But short of that, Butler is at the top of his position. Chances are, even the 32nd pick isn’t going to be as good as Butler down the road. And notice I say down the road. Almost no chance in hell that any CB drafted this year can play anywhere close to Butler’s level in 2017. Cornerback is a difficult position, and Butler was been tested under fire.
As Underhill said, we’re likely to know by this weekend. It’s going to be a fun week.