A report on restricted free agent Malcolm Butler hit the wires today stating that the Houston Texans could be interested in acquiring the New England Patriots cornerback. Butler, who is entering the off-season as a restricted free agent, was tendered by the Patriots with a 1st round tender which was not welcomed by the cornerback and which he has refused to sign. The Patriots have been active early this off-season, signing Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a lucrative deal and making Butler possibly expendable and leaving him free to go to the right team.
The Texans watched their top free agent, cornerback A.J. Bouye, leave for Jacksonville on a 5-year deal worth $67.5 million, with $44 million coming in the first three years of his new deal. Reports mention the Texans pushed their offer, twice, into the $12 million to $12.5 million range. The loss of Bouye causes some concern on how the Texans will address the void left by one of their top defenders for the 2017 and beyond.
Enter this report.
Eric Edholm, Yahoo Sports, reported that the Texans were interested in sending a second-round pick from this year to possibly acquire Butler for the upcoming season. With the exit of Bouye, this looks like a real possibility from the surface and with Butler’s resume, it sounds like a solid idea.
Remember Butler was said to be in New Orleans visiting according to head coach Sean Payton and meeting with team officials to get a better feel for the cornerback.
Soon after the report, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, mentioned that the Saints were already working on parameters to sign Butler to a new deal.
So does the report make sense for Houston?
The fact that the report points to the Texans giving up a second round pick to land Butler is hard to imagine. The Texans moved their 2018 second round pick to the Cleveland Browns in the Brock Osweiler trade which means the pick would more than likely be from the upcoming draft.
Would the Texans go two consecutive drafts without second round picks? Doubtful.
Add in the fact that to get Butler, he would need a new deal in the area of what Gilmore and Bouye landed on the open market. Which means that the deal would be above or near what Bouye’s cost would be and that would be north of the $12 million per year mark.
Would the Texans pay a player from the outside, from the same position, to replace Bouye? Maybe.
To put this in focus, the Texans would have to move a second round pick and give a Butler a new contract according to this report.
The last time the Texans moved multiple top end picks, two second rounders, was for, then Atlanta quarterback Matt Schaub. That was for the quarterback position and Schaub inked a new deal with that move in 2007.
The Texans would do that for a quarterback, but for a cornerback? It is difficult to envision that happening.
If the Texans wanted a cornerback that badly, they would have just re-signed Bouye for the cost he was wanting instead taking on a reported double whammy: the loss of a high end draft pick plus a new contract. That cost feels way too high especially with what just transpired over the past week with Bouye walking and the team also moving a second round pick along with Osweiler. The report appears nothing more than normal free agency discussion to make a market when there are limited options.
Could the Texans have called Butler’s agent to get a feel for what it would take money wise to land him? Absolutely.
With what the Texans just finished at the start of free agency, it is hard to see that going after Butler at the cost he is seeking is a plan the Texans are truly interested in. What the organization has tried to do over the recent years is pay their core players, control the cap, and keep their draft picks for draft day ammunition to move up when needed.
The deal just does not match up with what the Texans have shown over recent off-seasons.
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