But without much choice after the Patriots didn’t trade him during the NFL draft, Butler has reported to the second phase of the team’s offseason workouts. ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported that Butler is “all in” for the Patriots in 2017.
Amazingly enough, the Patriots managed to keep a top cornerback and will pay him just $3.9 million this season on his restricted free-agent tender. That’s far below market value for Butler. The Patriots signed former Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore for $65 million over five years this offseason. The Patriots and New Orleans Saints engaged in oft-reported trade talks but no deal happened. It’s possible the Patriots ship Butler off before this season starts, considering he’s an unrestricted free agent after the season and it seems at the moment like there’s very little chance he’ll sign an extension with New England (and the Patriots haven’t been shy about trading upcoming free agents before).
But if Butler sticks on the Patriots, it’s another Pro Bowl player on an already loaded 2017 roster. They used their ample salary-cap space to add key free agents and traded for receiver Brandin Cooks. After an uncertain offseason for Butler, they retained the Super Bowl XLIX hero (at least for now) and have perhaps the best cornerback duo in the NFL. And Butler will be motivated to have a big season and cash in when he becomes a free agent next offseason.
The Patriots were the best team in the NFL last season by a wide margin. They’ll be even better this season, especially with Butler back in the mix. It’s a scary thought for the rest of the league.
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