However, he was kept and it might be because of the unsigned restricted free-agency tender assigned to him earlier this month. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder can not be traded to another team until it is.
Butler could always sign the tender and let the Patriots trade him.
First, the Patriots acquired defensive end Kony Ealy and a third-round pick from the Panthers in exchange for a second-round pick.
That would seem unlikely given that Belichick's preference would likely be to send Butler out of the conference, and the fact it might not be a strong enough depending on what the Saints come through with.
The Saints now own two picks in the first round (11th and 32nd overall), one pick in the second round (42nd overall) and two picks in the third round (76th and 103rd overall) in the first two days of the draft. He'll have to play 2017 for $3.9 million with things as they stand. Still, New Orleans addressed one of their serious needs and is likely going to see a big improvement on defense with Okafor in there. The Jimmy Graham trade is one example of how the Saints have moved offensive players while future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton have kept the offense rolling.
Maybe the Patriots still trade Jimmy Garoppolo to recoup picks.
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Why is that? The facts of this case have been clear for a very long time at this point thanks to a very detailed DOJ report . He takes it, but gives it back just before leaving. "We want people to understand what happened, and they're going to".
Now, notice in the report from Ian Rapoport, it says "then talk trade", because even if the Saints sign Butler, that doesn't mean he would even be on the roster next season. New England and New Orleans have made four deals since September 1, 2015.
According to Michael Giardi of CSN New England, Butler is "extremely frustrated" with the Patriots and their decision to sign cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The No. 10 pick in the 2012 draft, Gilmore was an unrestricted free agent after spending the past five seasons in Buffalo.
Brady's game-used Super Bowl jersey went missing shortly after he won his fifth title, and a video of Brady in front of his locker postgame shows the Super Bowl MVP telling someone who appears to be a clubhouse attendant that his famous threads are gone.
At worst, the Gilmore signing gives the team a No. 1 caliber corner to replace Butler. "I'm not sure what my role is going to be, but I'm excited just to get to work and learn from everyone around me".
Whether the bridge is beyond fix or not, the third scenario seems optimistic more than realistic at this point.
That said, the 23-year-old Cooks says joining Brady's receiving corps is a dream scenario as he enters his fourth season in the league having followed Brady's career since he was a kid.