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Saints won’t give up No. 11 pick to Patriots for Malcolm Butler

If anything, New Orleans will wait until Butler signs his tender and then work out a trade with New England.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints have been courting New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler for weeks, but it’s not a sure thing that Butler will come to New Orleans. Head coach Sean Payton said Tuesday that the Saints will not give up the No. 11 pick in the 2017 draft to acquire Butler.

“Currently, it’s my understanding he hasn’t signed his tender, and so it was just that we can sign him to an offer sheet, but I don’t think we’re going to do that and give up the 11th pick,” Payton said from the owners meetings on Wednesday. “In fact, I know we’re not going to do that. So it is what it is right now.”

Butler was a restricted free agent heading into this offseason, and New England placed a first-round tender on the hero of Super Bowl 49. The Saints need to bolster a secondary that ranked dead last in the NFL last season, and Butler would be a solid addition. But so far, nothing has come of a good visit Butler had with the Saints two weeks ago.

If Butler signs his tender, the Saints could work out a trade with the Patriots. Bill Belichick is typically willing to part ways with almost any playerTom Brady being a reasonable exception — if the price is right.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft may not agree. Kraft said Monday that the intention is not to trade Butler, but Belichick has the final say on personnel decisions.

Payton was noncommittal about the possibility of trading for Butler after he signs his tender.

“That would just be speculation,” Payton said.

The Saints already pulled off one trade with the Patriots this offseason, sending wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick to New England in exchange for the 32nd overall pick and a third-round selection. If the Saints aren’t willing to part with that No. 11 pick, though, the Patriots may be just as happy to keep Butler in New England next season.