New England Patriots

Lost in all the hullabaloo with the Malcolm Butler controversy since Super Bowl LII: the cornerback is set to hit the market. And while Butler was already unlikely to stay with the Patriots, there’s a possibility he remains in the AFC East.

With the Jets.

The Patriots’ AFC East counterparts are going to look into signing Butler when NFL free agency begins on March 14. That’s according to a tweet on Tuesday by Calvin Watkins, who covers the Jets for Newsday.

Watkins added that, of course, “it’s all about the price.” If Butler hits the market seeking a top-of-the-heap kind of deal, he will be disappointed. And that’s not just because of the Super Bowl; he had a trying year in 2017 overall. Plus, he’s always been relatively undersized for what NFL teams look for in a No. 1 corner making No. 1 corner money.

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 04: Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

What Happens In Free Agency?

It’s more likely that Butler gets a deal similar to his former teammate Logan Ryan, who signed last year with the Tennessee Titans for three years and $30 million, including $16 million guaranteed. Still good money compared to most NFL players, since corner remains a premium position. But in the cornerback hierarchy, he probably ends up somewhere between that deal and what Stephon Gilmore got from the Patriots (five years, $65 million, $40 million guaranteed).

The Jets do have a need at cornerback, among many other spots on their roster. So their interest in Butler could certainly be legit. But this could also be a play by Butler’s agent, Derek Simpson, to let the Patriots know that his client could end up with their division “rival.”

Pretty much zero chance that will change anything for Bill Belichick. Either way, Butler will almost certainly be in a different uniform next season. Unless he finds that his market isn’t as strong as he hoped, and the Patriots end up wanting him back and keeping him on a competitive offer.

— By Matt Dolloff,

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at