It is now April 10th, and Malcolm Butler still does not have a contract with the New England Patriots. After refusing to sign his tender, many thought Butler was going to get traded away. After rumors of Brandin Cooks possibly coming to NE, many fans were ready to say goodbye to Butler. Then the Patriots added Cooks, but were able to do it without giving up Butler. Now, without a draft pick in the first three rounds, the question loomed if Malcolm would get dealt for draft picks. Then came the Richard Sherman rumors. These rumors swirled across the league of Richard Sherman possibly being a key piece in a trade to the Patriots to replace Malcolm Butler. Of course on paper it sounds great. Stephon Gilmore and Richard Sherman in the same secondary, with Devin McCourtey over-the-top. However, the strategy of this duo, along with the locker room presence may end up hurting the Patriots more than people think.
First, lets start with what Malcolm Butler brings to the table. Even though he is only 5’9”, he is one of the toughest and most physical cornerbacks in the league. He is not afraid of contact and is willing to match up against any task put in front of him. The guy is a work horse too. In 2015, Butler played over 98% of defensive snaps and last year his total was over 96%. He stays on the field and stays healthy. They don’t come more reliable than Butler. In signing him you know exactly what you’re getting. He is not going to give up, or stay off the field any longer than he absolutely needs to. He sure isn’t going to get into any problems with the media and he will be focused on football at all times. He is the ideal Patriot under Belichick’s system and if there is anyone New England should pay, it is him. He may not be able to go up against the bigger receivers, but that is what the Patriots signed Stephon Gilmore for. Butler is the perfect solution for the Patriots secondary. He brings heart, toughness, skill and absolutely no distractions. Whether it is convincing him to sign a tender, or offering him a new deal, Butler needs to come back to New England.
Now, we have the other option. Richard Sherman. Although Sherman might be the most lock down corner in the league, there are some flaws to his game and his fit in New England. Don’t get me wrong, Sherman is a better all around corner than Butler. But there is a reason why top corners fall off a cliff when they switch teams (Nnamdi Asomugha and Josh Norman to name a couple). The position of cornerback is as much about scheme as it is skill. The Patriots have just signed a preferred man-to-man cornerback to the largest deal in team history. Richard Sherman is a strictly zone cornerback. He stays on one side of the field and locks that side down. Whoever happens to be on that side is who he covers. The weakness is Stephon Gilmore’s game? Zone coverage. In the film room, he is not particularly strong in zone coverage. So now you have one corner who refuses to leave his side of the field, and the over who is a complete man corner. It does not sound like a perfect fit.
Then there is the Marshawn Lynch factor. Earlier reports today from Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, says Lynch is interested in following Sherman if he does end up leaving Seattle. So now, there is not one but two big mouth, cocky players in New England. Their personalities compared to the “Patriot way” is a polar opposite. Both Lynch and Sherman are known for their antics with the media, which just so happens to be one thing that gets you benched on New England. If Belichick will bench Wes Welker in a playoff game for a small comment about an opposing team, you can say it will be hard for Sherman and Lynch to get through a full season without any trouble.
How could anyone think this deal could work out for both sides? New England loses one of their hardest working players who is a perfect scheme fit. In return, they get two players who don’t fit their system and who will have the media in New England driving Bill Belichick crazy. Bottom line is sign Malcolm Butler.