BOSTON (CBS) — Marshawn Lynch may have privately expressed interest in joining the Patriots, but that doesn’t mean that the interest is mutual.

The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe joined Toucher & Rich on Tuesday to talk about the situation involving the retired former Seattle Seahawks running back, who has also been linked to his hometown Oakland Raiders. Despite the Patriots’ financial flexibility and possible need for a power running back, Howe doesn’t see a Lynch-Patriots marriage as very likely.

“I’d characterize it as a long shot,” said Howe. “But it’s a sentiment that Marshawn Lynch has privately expressed. And I said yesterday that it was privately, because it’s not something he has brought to the Patriots or a public negotiating stance or anything like that. It’s just something that he’s clearly interested in entertaining, if it gets to that.”

Howe still believes that if Lynch were to come out of retirement for any team, it would be the Raiders – but if that doesn’t work out, perhaps the Patriots become a real possibility.

As for the Malcolm Butler situation, Howe offered no new updates. But he expressed confidence in the Patriots’ ability to still sign Butler long-term, even with Stephon Gilmore under contract for $40 million guaranteed.

“[The Patriots] could bring in Lynch and still retain Malcolm Butler,” said Howe. “They have the cap space to do whatever they want.”

[graphiq id=”fmXmL7am9hj” title=”Marshawn Lynch Career Rushing Yards and Touchdowns” width=”600″ height=”526″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/fmXmL7am9hj” ]

The Patriots could also still trade Butler ahead of the April 27 NFL Draft. Butler has until April 21 to negotiate offer sheets with other teams, but that’s not likely. Still, if he has any interest in playing anywhere other than New England next season, he will sign the tender before the draft and let the Patriots work out potential trades.

“It would make all the sense in the world for Butler to sign his tender right around April 21 and let the chips fall where they may,” said Howe. “The Patriots are probably still going to negotiate with the Saints, who clearly want Butler. It’s just, they’re not going to give him away. … Whoever meets the Patriots’ asking price on Butler could get Butler. And we’ll see if the Saints are really willing to extend themselves.”

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