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Malcolm Butler can officially be traded after signing tender with Patriots

This begs the question of whether the Patriots will try to sign Butler long term or trade the former Super Bowl hero.

AFC Championship - Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Malcolm Butler saga continues.

The former Super Bowl hero cornerback has signed his first-round RFA tender with the New England Patriots, per Field Yates of ESPN.

Signing Butler does a few things for the Patriots, but most notably, it officially makes the 27-year-old tradable. In mid-March, it became apparent that even heroes like Butler who have made a tangible impact on New England’s dynasty status can fall victim to the Patriot Way.

With rumors surfacing about Butler potentially being traded — likely due to Stephon Gilmore’s signing — they’ll likely continue to swirl around the superstar until he either signs a long-term deal or finds a new home via trade. He’s made it clear that he isn’t happy with his contract situation in New England and looks as though he’ll continue to do so.

Butler will make $3.91 million in the upcoming season which, though it’s an absurdly small amount for a player of his caliber, is a massive pay upgrade for the fourth-year corner who made just over $1.5 million in his first three NFL seasons.

The question now becomes whether a team like the New Orleans Saints, who just traded Brandin Cooks to New England, could make a play for the veteran corner and whether or not the Patriots, who have claimed they don’t have interest in trading him, will listen to (or act on) any serious trade offers.

As of now, Butler figures to line up opposite Gilmore in what should be one of the NFL’s most talented secondaries, if not the best. After finishing 12th in pass defense last season, the Patriots will all but likely be a top-five or top-10 secondary in 2017. Couple that with the fact that New England’s defense finished third in the NFL against the run and first in scoring defense a year ago, and you have a formula for the Patriots to continue their domination.

The bottom line: As if they weren’t already, the Patriots will be Super Bowl favorites next year should they keep Butler around. Now that’s scary.