BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots surprised a lot of people when they came out of nowhere to land free-agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who signed with New England for five years and $65 million with $40 million guaranteed. Apparently, Malcolm Butler was among those who were blindsided by the signing.
Recent reports by CSNNE’s Mike Giardi suggested that Butler was “frustrated” with his situation with the Patriots and his agent is shopping the restricted free agent around the league for potential offers. A series of tweets by The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe on Monday shed more light on what may be going on behind the scenes between the two sides.
Howe first reported that Butler has received interest from several teams – but contrary to reports of the cornerback’s frustration, he still prefers to be a “Patriot for life” and “wants to make it work” with New England. He added that the Patriots offered Butler an extension in the range of $6-7 million per season last year and told him that they would not offer a cornerback more than $10 million annually – making the Gilmore signing “definitely a gut punch.”
The Patriots have paid a cornerback more than $10 million per season before; they paid Darrelle Revis $12 million (including a $10 million signing bonus) in 2014. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Patriots lied to Butler; it’s possible that they told Butler they wouldn’t pay that high of a contract to a restricted free agent, or sign a long-term deal for that amount. That, of course, how changed with the Gilmore signing.
No matter what the Patriots specifically told Butler, the cornerback certainly appears to have been as surprised by the Gilmore deal as anyone else.
Howe added that Butler has no plans to hold out if he ends up signing his first-round tender for $3.9 million and doesn’t get traded. A holdout would be the only leverage Butler could have against the Patriots if and when he signs the tender, but it would be a departure from the cornerback’s behavior so far. He has yet to speak publicly about his contract or hold out in any way.