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A deal is in the works for that would see Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler end up playing for the Saints. But the restricted free agent, whom New England placed the first-round tender worth $3.91 million on, doesn't appear to be headed there to formally sign an offer sheet. Having just signed free agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore, New England at least has someone they feel can be a quality top corner on their roster if they were to lose Butler. The Saints wanted Malcolm Butler, but because he hasn't signed his franchise tender he's not technically under contract and therefore can not be traded.

"I'm glad we don't have to play him twice a year and he's not in our division", Belichick told reporters after a preseason game last year. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder can not be traded to another team until it is.

Malcolm Butler could be on his way out of New England.

The Patriots have a few options when it comes to Butler.

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I've made sure that I've asked the players just to focus on a game at a time and I need to do that as well. As a coach and a manager it is more of a mental thing.

New Orleans might be more willing to give up a first-rounder since they now have two as a result of the Cooks trade.

Not only would the Saints lose a first-round pick, they would lose the No. 11 overall pick owned through last year's record. Butler has had his name tied with the Saints for the past week or so as the Patriots were trading for Brandin Cooks. If the Patriots don't match the offer within five days, the Patriots would get New England's first-round pick in the draft. He now replaces Jabaal Sheard, who signed a free-agent deal with the Colts, and adds yet another vibrant element to an already terrific defense. Also, if they elect not to match the offer, they'd receive compensation. In the end, Butler could be on his way out, but could find that big pay check that he has been looking for.

Of course, there will be a point at which the Patriots and Saints will need to do some winking and nodding, so that the planets can properly align once Butler has signed the tender.

And if Brady maintains his high level of play, he's likely to continue one of the most remarkable runs in pro sports history. "And you have X amount of assets, it might be draft picks or money to spend in free agency", said the Saints coach.

  • Regina Holmes