Report: Patriots won't talk to Saints until Butler signs RFA tender

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The New England Patriots haven't entered trade discussions with the New Orleans Saints or Malcolm Butler, and won't until the cornerback signs his restricted free-agent tender, reports NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Rapoport adds talks between the Saints and Butler are progressing and the sides aren't far apart.

The idea is that the Saints and Butler will agree to the parameters of a contract and then New Orleans will work out a trade deal with New England. However, Rapoport speculates the Patriots might insist Butler signs his first-round tender before negotiations begin, which would give them significant leverage in negotiations.

If Butler signs and the Saints pull out of the running for him, he'd be under contract for the 2017 season at $3.9 million - significantly below his market value.

The Saints would be required to give up the 11th overall draft pick if the Patriots declined to match their offer, but it's assumed the teams would work out a different package for the star cornerback.