BOSTON (CBS) -- It appeared that the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints were working toward a Malcolm Butler trade. But a new report suggests that no such negotiations have taken place.
The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted on Monday that the Patriots "have had no talks" with the Saints or Butler about a possible trade involving the restricted free agent, a deal that was presumed to include the 32nd overall pick in April's NFL Draft. Rapoport added that the Patriots won't talk to either party until Butler signs his first-round RFA tender, which needs to happen for any kind of move to take place.
Rapoport also tweeted that the Saints and Butler are "not far apart" in their negotiations on a contract, with "proposals changing hands." But the Patriots still control the situation and could simply force the Saints to sign Butler to an RFA offer sheet once the cornerback signs his tender.
If the Saints sign Butler to an offer sheet and the Patriots don't match, New Orleans would send their own first-round pick, 11th overall, to New England. Otherwise, the Patriots could keep Butler and have him play out his contract on the $3.91 million tender in 2017.
CSN's Mike Giardi, who has reported extensively on the Butler situation, tweeted earlier on Monday that he senses a "game of high-stakes chicken" between the Patriots and Saints. Based on these reports, it seems like the Patriots have no urgency to make any sort of drastic move with Butler. If the Patriots are content to let Butler sign an offer sheet and take the Saints' 11th pick, then it's possible that they would hold out for that pick in a potential trade or force the Saints to add more on top of No. 32.
The Patriots have virtually all of the leverage in the situation with Butler and the Saints, and appear happy to wait it out.
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