Tag Archives: Malcolm Butler

Who’s to Blame for Butler’s Beef?

If you’re a Patriots fan and you don’t live under a rock, you’ve heard the name Malcolm Butler.

The once undrafted rookie turned Super Bowl 49 hero with a goal-line interception to seal a victory against the Seattle Seahawks is a moment engraved in NFL history forever. Literally, that’s one of those plays that will be remembered when people talk about the history of the NFL; a moment that will capture the Patriots dynasty.

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After Super Bowl 49, the Patriots dropped their top 3 cornerbacks (at the time Darelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Kyle Arrington) and it seemed that the new #1 cornerback for the Patriots was… Malcolm Butler. A kid who wasn’t on the roster to start the season before. A player many confused for Colts CB Darius Butler during their playoff run. Crazy talk!

Yet, in the past two years Butler has surpassed expectations and played like a Top 10 cornerback in the league. He isn’t the best at any one thing, but his mindset to give 110% on each snap is what keeps him in discussion as a top CB in the league. So what’s the issue?

Again, unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard that Malcolm Butler is upset with his current contract situation. Because he is playing under a rookie deal, he makes jack squat. This offseason Butler is a restricted free agent, meaning teams can attempt to sign him, but the Patriots can match any contract offer he receives AND has the final say if he were to stay or leave the team. The free agent tender means this: the Patriots get to chose the worth of the player. They slapped a first-round tender on Malcolm Butler, meaning that, as long as he signs the contract, he gets paid 3.9 million dollars to play for the Patriots this year. If another team wishes to give him a long term offer, and Malcolm as well as the Patriots let him walk to this new team, they must give the Patriots their FIRST ROUND PICK this draft. Whoa, talk about a hefty load.

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Essentially, it means this: The Patriots are completely in the driver’s seat. It would take an absolutely crazy team to give up 10’s of millions of dollars per year for Malcolm Butler along with a first-round caliber player in the draft this year.

Why is Butler mad? The dude wants to get paid. Honestly, you can’t blame him for being upset. He is 27 years old, in his prime in the NFL, and made 500,000 last year. That’s nice and all, until you realize he could be making somewhere around 12 million per year on another roster, if not more. For reference, Logan Ryan (the cornerback playing BEHIND Butler for New England the past few years) signed a contract for 10 million per year over the next few years. Further, a cornerback’s shelf-life and opportunity to make money is not long. To make matters worse, the Patriots just brought in another top cornerback in Stephon Gillmore and are paying him 65 million over 5 years.

Before you get mad at Butler, understand it’s a business. You likely wouldn’t be happy with such a significant paycut either when your coworker makes vastly more and you know you could make more money elsewhere. Here’s the catch: Butler doesn’t necessarily want to leave New England. He loves it here. He just wants to get paid fairly.

And you can’t get mad at New England either. Tendering Butler early in the offseason allowed them to still have a huge budget to spend and splurge on the roster like they have. It’s not like anyone is going to pursue Butler with the huge price it will cost. It’s like using coupons – when it’s right in your face why the hell wouldn’t you save the money? No-brainer.

What can be done about this? Like I said, New England is in the driver’s seat. Butler can refuse to sign the tender, which means he would not play next year. Yet, he would still be a restricted free agent next offseason, repeating the process. A restricted free agent has to play at least 8 games on the active roster in an NFL season to get out of the restricted contract. Butler can try and convince other teams to sign him, but that will be hard.

Signing a player to that much money and giving up a first rounder if another team signs him is just too much of a bold move. First rounders are precious in the NFL. A team could try and trade for him, but that doesn’t make sense on the Patriots end. If you’re the Patriots, what trade could be better than a team’s first round pick AND not having to trade away any assets on the Patriots end? Lastly, Butler can play his ass off next season and be a free agent next offseason, which is likely to happen.

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The Saints have been linked as a potential candidate for Butler. They may just sign him and give up their first round pick (#11). They received the Patriots first round pick (#32) in a trade for Brandin Cooks. Still, that seems like an idiotic move. The #11 pick is likely a day-one impact starter in most drafts.

I have three notes on this dilemma that I couldn’t find a place for anywhere else.

For starters, this draft is speculated to be loaded with talented defensive players, especially at the defensive back position. This only forces more leverage into the hands of the Patriots. Why would anyone give up so much when they can likely find a starting defensive back in the draft?

Secondly, the Patriots could easily be doing this with the intent of figuring out Butler’s market value (along with saving money this year). They just did something similar with Dont’a Hightower. Playing patient and figuring out a player’s value, especially in this instance where Butler has no place to go, seems to pay off by saving every possible penny.

Lastly, this doesn’t mean that Butler won’t stay in New England. The Patriots aren’t cheap with money: they’re smart with money. There’s a difference. Although they find ways to save money wherever they can, the Patriots also have no problem giving player’s more money through bonuses when they deem it appropriate. Remember a similar situation happened with offensive lineman Logan Mankins in 2011, who was tired of being franchise tagged instead of a long-term deal.

The Patriots will likely pay Butler, they have the money to, and he’s a game-changer for their team. Loading up on defense for the end of Brady’s reign and the transition to a new QB in the next few years seems like a smart move.





Breaking Down Patriots Free Agents

Now that the Super Bowl has been decided, it’s time for free agency. The time of the year where every team is looking to build up their rosters, and the current Super Bowl winner is just looking to hold onto what they have.

As for the Patriots this year, it’s a big free agency year. The Patriots traded away Chandler Jones and Jaime Collins, two players that are sure to reel in a lot of cash. Although the Patriots have around 60 million dollars of cap room, it’s going to be tough to re-sign everyone they would like to keep. Let’s look at some players and my predictions.

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Malcolm Butler – Malcolm Butler is a restricted free agent, which means that the Patriots can counter any offer that is made for him. In these situations, restricted free agents are likely to stay with the team. I doubt this one goes any different. Mac loves New England, and New England loves him. Belichick has proven that he can succeed without a top-dollar cornerback, but I don’t see this being a factor here. Malcolm will be playing in New England next year. Stays.

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Martellus Bennett – Martellus Bennett, in his one year with the Patriots, helped bring back the dual TE threat, became a more important player when Gronkowski went down for the season, and has embraced the Patriot way like few other first-year players have. I have little doubt Bennett loves the Patriots, and I have little doubt that the Patriots would love to have him back. Sadly, things aren’t this simple. Put plainly, Martellus is going to get offered a fat wad of cash, and this is likely his last big paycheck in the NFL. He’s already stated that there’s more to his life than just football, as he has a budding children’s book company. Expect a team with a lot of money and few weapons to shell out until they reel him in. Gone.

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LeGarrette Blount – The scenario here is the same as Martellus Bennett’s. This dude loves the Patriots, and the Patriots love him. He was crucial to the success of the Super Bowl season, and there’s little doubt in my mind that another team is going to offer him a lot of money. Still, I see this one going the other way. Blount knows what it’s like leaving the Patriots, I doubt he wants to play in another jersey for the rest of his career. Stays.

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Dont’a Hightower – If there’s a world where the Patriots absolutely nose dive next season and become the laughing stock of the league, Donta Hightower is still playing linebacker for the Patriots. That’s how crucial he is to this team’s success. There’s no way he isn’t on the roster next season. Belichick will pay this man, he values linebackers highly. Stays.

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Sebastian Vollmer – This one’s a no brainer. The starting tackle lost his spot while injured all season to the emergence of Marcus Cannon, who was re-signed during the season. There’s not a lot of purpose in re-signing this veteran while the Tackle position is one that needs no improvement for the Patriots. Gone.

Stay tuned next week for Part II!