Two weeks ago the Patriots held OTA’s, which are voluntary, and Butler was not in attendance. There have since been reports that Butler is unhappy with his contract situation. He is scheduled to make just $600,000 this year, which is far lower than his true value. If he is truly unhappy there is a chance he will not show up for mandatory minicamp which starts tomorrow, at which point he will begin to be fined by the team. The only problem for Butler is that he has zero leverage. After this season he will be a restricted free agent, which means that the Patriots have total control. If the Patriots chose to tender him, which they will, it will be at the first round level which is just under $4 million, and requires any team that signs him to give the Patriots their first round pick if the Patriots chose not to match the contract. If Butler plays next season on the first round tender, the team can then place the franchise tag on him which would pay him around $15 million for the 2018 season. Butler’s only real option is to holdout, but he has made less than $2 million in his career and doesn’t have the luxury of sitting back on his money.
The Patriots don’t have to give Butler a new contract until after 2018, but the question is should they. Malcolm Butler is absolutely worth more than the money he is making right now, and the money he would make next year on the first round tender. If the Patriots chose to wait it out they are going to have to pay him big money eventually. What I think they should do is come to him with a team friendly deal and see if he takes it. Something like 4 years and $32 million is where I would start. The top corners in the game make $14 million per year and Butler is a top 10 corner right now, but only has one year as a starter under his belt. He won’t be able to command top of the market money until he shows he can do it consistently. The team doesn’t have to do this and it would be a nice gesture to give him a bridge contract until he signs that big deal, and I think he would take it.