BOSTON (CBS) — Malcolm Butler’s slightly reduced role raised some eyebrows on Sunday. While it may not mean the cornerback is in trouble with Bill Belichick, it could be a byproduct of his subpar performance since the start of training camp.

And even though the season has started, that doesn’t mean he can’t still be traded.

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CSNNE’s Phil Perry joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Tuesday to talk about Butler’s curious case, citing a combination of a “lack of performance” and matchup considerations as the reason he played far fewer snaps against the Saints than he’s used to playing, which is usually close to 100 percent. But Perry believed strongly in the Butler trade rumors that dominated the offseason, and that last year’s Jamie Collins trade shows that the Patriots could still trade the cornerback in-season in order to improve at another position.

“I’ve said this since the summer: Malcolm Butler has long been a candidate for a trade,” said Perry. “Given his contract situation, given the fact that I don’t think he’s going to be around next year … and what did [the Patriots] do last year with Jamie Collins, when he was in the last year of his deal and I think it became apparent to them that they weren’t going to re-sign him? They traded him.

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“They only got a pick back, but the Patriots are pretty thin in some areas right now. And so, if they feel like they can add to depth at one spot by trading a corner who’s in the last year of his contract, who may not be back next year anyway, I would not be shocked if they did it.”

(L-R) Malcolm Butler, Bill Belichick (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Even if the Patriots did trade Butler, that doesn’t mean that it happened because of disciplinary issues. Perry doesn’t believe Butler’s reduced role was because he was in Belichick’s dog house.

“I’m not sure it’s anything that would have to do with discipline, because [Butler] ended up playing the second-most snaps of anybody at the [cornerback] position,” said Perry. “So that would maybe tell you that this wasn’t just an out-and-out benching.”

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Perry also touched upon the rough start to the season for Alan Branch and what it could mean for others along the Patriots’ defensive line. Listen to the full podcast above!