BOSTON (CBS) — ¬†All signs point to Malcolm Butler playing for someone other than the New England Patriots in 2017, with a trade to the New Orleans Saints seemingly inevitable.

Butler met with the Saints on Wednesday and Thursday, and it seems like it’s just a matter of time before the Patriots trade away the Super Bowl XLIX hero. But one NFL writer, who just so happens to be a former Patriots assistant, doesn’t think the cornerback is going anywhere.

Mike Lombardi, now a staff writer on The Ringer, believes Butler will be back in the New England secondary in 2017, in hopes of landing a big deal as an unrestricted free agent in 2018.

“I think Malcolm Butler signs his tender, goes to New England, and puts the onus on New England,” Lombardi said on The Ringer’s NFL podcast on Thursday (h/t to Mass Live’s Kevin Duffy). “‘Play great, I’ll make a huge deal next year. I’ll be 28 in March. I’ll make a huge deal out on the open market.’ New England’s not going to franchise him.”

Lombardi doesn’t think it makes much sense for the Saints to have to give New England something of value (likely the 32nd overall pick in April’s NFL Draft) for Butler and then have to turn around and pay him a premium contract.

“Why pay Malcolm Butler $13 million or $14 million a year, sign him to a long-term deal, and then have to turn around a draft pick, when you are basically buying a 27-year-old player?” he said. “You’d be better off drafting a young corner and hopefully developing him.”

This is different than what just about everyone else covering the Butler situation is reporting, but it’s not the first time there have been some conflicting reports throughout the saga. So, as always, we’ll just have to stay tuned.

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