It’s no secret that after the Stephon Gilmore signing Malcolm Butler is none too happy with his own contract situation. The 2014 Super Bowl hero recently signed his Restricted Free Agent tender for $3.91 million with the New England Patriots.

Which secures the teams rights to Butler for at least another year, or at best another team’s first round pick if they choose to sign him. Before this, Butler was shopping his services around the league and had reportedly gotten a bite from the New Orleans Saints. Rumors have surfaced that the Saint’s and Butler have the framework for a deal worth over $50 million already in place– but a trade still seems very improbable.

Saint’s GM, Mickey Loomis, seems very unwilling to give up one of the team’s first round picks for a 27 year old corner. So what does this all mean? Will Butler stay in New England, or make is way down to NOLA? Let’s look at the 6 possible outcomes that could take place after Butler has signed his tender.

  1. With Butler already signed, the two teams agree to a trade.

The Saints and Butler already have a deal in place so we’re past that speed bump. But since the Saints did not sign Butler outright to that contract it looks like they’re against the thought of giving up their 11th overall pick in this year’s draft.

Now since the 11th pick is off the table the potential swap of the 32nd overall pick (If Mickey Loomis is willing to part with it), acquired in the Cooks deal, is the pick that would probably be involved in any trade for Butler.

This pick and maybe a later round pick/pick swap would probably get the deal done for the Patriots. In turn, the Saints get their missing defensive leader, the Pats are back in the first round, and Butler gets his contract. Everyone is happy!

  1. With Butler already signed, the two teams DO NOT agree to a trade.

Mickey Loomis may believe that a team who has just recently gotten out of salary cap purgatory and who’s actively trying to rebuild may not be best suited giving up a 1st round pick along with a $50 million dollar contract to a corner who has been in only one defensive system his whole professional career.

The potential of having a comparatively skilled, cheaper, and younger option with their 1st round picks might outweigh the benefit of signing Butler. Instead, the package they are probably pitching to New England could include a package of 2nd and 3rd round picks.

Bill Belichick, on the other hand, may not like what the Saints are offering and may simply deem a year of Butler much more valuable than a myriad of later round picks. If those are both the cases, a deal will most certainly not be completed.

  1. Another team swoops in and offers the Patriots a deal they can’t refuse.

If the Patriots cannot come to terms with the Saint’s and still want to deal Butler, a dark horse team could swoop in and make them an offer. Other teams like the Titans and Cowboys, who have needs at CB, could offer one of their mid to late 1st round picks to try to pry Malcolm away from the Patriots.

While this could happen I wouldn’t put my money on the outcome. If teams really wanted to offer their 1st rounder for Butler they would have signed him to a deal weeks before he had signed his tender.

  1. Butler holds out.

Under the new CBA it would be financially irresponsible for Butler to hold out from training camp. About $40,000 a day irresponsible. Since Butler’s career earnings as a Patriot are just over $1.5 million  I don’t think he’d want to fork over that kind of cash.

It would serve Malcolm best if he played his tail off in 2017, and hit the market as an unrestricted free agent in 2018. At that point he could negotiate with any team he wanted without being limited by the RFA tag.

  1. Butler plays 2017 in a Pats uniform, works out a contract or walks in 2018.

The most likely of outcomes is the least drama filled in this saga. After signing his tender, Butler and the Patriots could amicably agree to play the year out and see where that takes them.

The Patriots would arguably have the best corner back tandem in the NFL for at least one year, while Butler gets another chance to raise his value before hitting the open market in 2018.

Another outcome, the less likely of the two, is that both sides have a change of heart a year from now and work out a long term contract for Butler.

It would involve Butler taking a deal that is much lower than his market value and therefore doubtful.

  1. The Patriots trade Butler mid-season.

While this seems pretty odd, I would not put it past Belichick and the Patriots to pull off a deal right before the trade deadline. Just look at last year’s Jamie Collins trade for reference.

If Butler becomes a nuisance in the locker room, insubordinate on and off the field, or just isn’t performing up to the level he is expected to Bill Belichick will deal him with no hesitation. He’d much rather get a late round pick for trading Butler, than deal with an ongoing distraction in the locker room.

Now that we’ve gone over all of the scenarios that could play out in the Butler saga, where do we land?

Although it’s not the “sexy” choice my belief is that Butler will spend 2017 in a Patriots uniform.

If both teams cannot come to an agreement on a trade by the end of day 1 of the draft, Butler will stay put. While this may not be the best outcome for all parties involved, it is the most reasonable. Loomis and the Saints may not get that defensive leader they’ve been looking for but they get to keep both of their 1st rounders’ in one of the deepest drafts in years.

Belichick and the Pats will no doubt lose Butler come 2018, but on the bright side get to keep him in his prime for another New England Super Bowl run.

As for Malcolm? $3.91 million ain’t that bad. He’ll hopefully have a great season from a positional stand point, collect his check this year on a Super Bowl contender, and then look to 2018 to really cash in on the open market.

A little patience may go a long way for all parties involved, and hopefully they can all wait.

But hey, what do I know?