You remember the undrafted rookie out of South Alabama who made one of the single greatest plays in Super Bowl history in Super Bowl 49 right?
Malcolm Butler became a Super Bowl legend with that one play. He could have fanned out and disappeared like other notable heros like Jimmy Porter with the Saints back in 09. However, Butler has become one of the top 5 cornerbacks in the NFL.
This offseason Malcolm Butler is a restricted free agent. What that means is in order for the Patriots to retain the star corner, they will have to place a first-round tender on him. This means that he will get a base salary of $3.6 million this coming year and teams have the right to sign him to an offer sheet. If a team does in fact sign an offer sheet, the Patriots MUST MATCH IT in order to keep Butler on the squad. If not the Patriots will receive a first round draft pick from the team that signed the offer sheet.
Now that is a lot to digest in a short amount of time. However, I mention this because if a team who is in need of an elite cornerback, and who wouldn’t want one on their team, they can take Butler away from the defending Super Bowl Champions.
Now you might think that this doesn’t happen that often so why worry about it. ACTUALLY it happened recently and it involved that Patriots.
Remember when Wide Reciever Emmanuel Sanders went to the Denver Broncos? That was a similar situation. The Pittsburgh Steelers slapped a round tender on Sanders, the Patriots offered a contract for the player, a low ball one I might add. Denver came in with a better offer and ended up signing him away. This could very well happen to the Patriots.
The Patriots have never been known to break the bank for anyone. They’ve spent the second to last to all the teams in the NFL when it comes to real cap dollars. They will spend to the cap this year like they do every year, but it all depends on where they distribute the wealth. However, the team rarely makes that big free agent signing much to the chagrin of Patriots fans. We all know how Bill Belichick loves his special teamers.
The Patriots would want to retain Butler not only because of the players talent, but because of the precedent it sends to the players. Butler has been a professional throughout his entire time as a Patriot. He hasn’t complained once about his contract, he plays up to 97% of the plays on defense and plays through injury (he had a calf injury the beginning of this year.)
It would be good of them to show to the rest of the team that if you play well, be a professional and do all the right things you’ll get paid here in New England.
On a side note, Bill Belichick has never won the Super Bowl without an elite cornerback. Just saying.