Malcolm Butler: How Norman’s Deal Will Affect Pats’ Corner

Jan 24, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) makes a catch over New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) during the second half in the AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 24, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) makes a catch over New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) during the second half in the AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Josh Norman, the former Carolina Panthers cornerback, signed a monster deal with the Washington Redskins that most likely puts Malcolm Butler outside of the Patriots’ price range.

Just when you thought we were in a new era of the financially responsible, play-the-long-game Washington Redskins, ex-Panthers cornerback and superhero enthusiast Josh Norman rolled into town on Friday afternoon and left with a new jersey and a cool $75,000,000 in his pocket.  Not a bad way to start your weekend!

That’s the Dan Snyder we all know and love.

More from Chowder and Champions

So while that’s bad news for the rest of the NFC East, and bad news for Patriots fans that wanted the Pats to flip their usual policy on overpriced free agents completely upside-down to find a way to sign Norman, there’s even more bad news for the Pats and New England fans than that.

We all know NFL contract numbers are, by and large, about as real as the 2Pac hologram at Coachella last year.  Just ask Colin Kaepernick, the man who signed a $126 MILLION dollar deal with the San Francisco 49ers after the 2013 season.  Out of that $126 million, because of the contract language – which was clearly set up to allow the Niners to bail if they needed to – less than $26 million of it is actually guaranteed.  Judging by Kaep’s season from hell this past year, that’s looking more and more like reality.

That’s also what makes Josh Norman’s shiny new contract so amazing – out of the $75 million over 5 years, a whopping $50 million is guaranteed:

That’s a nuclear bomb in the shut-up-and-take-my-money arms race in elite cornerback contracts.  For reference, Richard Sherman’s contract has about $10 million in guarantees less than Norman’s new deal, and Josh Norman now has the potential to out-earn Cardinals corner Patrick Peterson if he plays well enough.

So let’s say the Patriots have a Pro Bowl level cornerback that’s a restricted free agent after the 2016 season that makes relative peanuts compared to other Pro Bowl corners, and…

Oh wait, they do.  It’s Malcolm Butler, the Super Bowl savior that’s turned into a Pro Bowler and, according to Pro Football Focus, the 17th best cornerback in the NFL.

According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, it’s a no-brainer that the Pats will put a first-round tender on Butler after the 2016 season, which basically means they’ll pay him $4 million for the 2017 season.  A first round tender means another team theoretically could sign Butler away from New England, but they’d have to send the Pats a first-round draft pick to do it.  After that, Butler hits unrestricted free agency, assuming the Pats don’t juggle the cap and find a way to re-sign him before then.

That’s a tricky enough situation, but New England also still needs to figure out who gets paid between Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Jabaal Sheard, and fellow corner Logan Ryan – all guys that need new deals after the 2016 season.

Do yourself a favor and don’t look at what top-level linebackers and pass-rushers like Justin Houston are getting paid these days.  It’s obscene.

More from Boston Sports

Want to throw another wrench in the works?  Of course you do.  Over the years, the Patriots have spent suitcases full of cash on front-seven guys – defensive linemen like Vince Wilfork, and linebackers like Jerod Mayo, and the ill-fated Adalius Thomas deal – and offensive linemen, making big boys like Logan Mankins and Matt Light very, very rich men for protecting Tom Brady.


For every dork on the NFL Network and ESPN squawking “It’s a passing league!”, they’re right, and, perhaps as a reflection of that, the Patriots signed safety Devin McCourty to a contract last year that, at the time, had the most guaranteed money for a safety in the entire NFL.  Overall contract numbers are for chumps.  The Patriots have more real money on the books for McCourty than Seattle does for Earl Thomas, and more than the Saints do with their monster deal for Jairus Byrd, who, by my math, was more disappointing last year than “Boondock Saints 2”.

So what they heck does that mean?  If the Patriots paid McCourty, are they game to pay Butler – who, let’s note, will have 3 years of experience in the Patriots system by then?  Or will New England stick to their policy of either letting guys like Ty Law, Asante Samuel, and Lawyer Milloy walk when they want too much money, and/or trading them for whatever value they can get?

One more thing.

Assuming that Malcolm Butler keeps playing at a Pro Bowl level, is it really that crazy to think a team could, literally, make Butler an offer he couldn’t refuse?

What if a team is – like many teams not named the Patriots tend to think they are – “one piece away” from a Super Bowl, and thinks Butler is worth either a first-round pick or a boatload of cash?

If Washington thinks Josh Norman is worth $75,000,000, and they barely tasted the playoffs before getting curb-stomped by Green Bay last season, what’s so outlandish about thinking someone else would move heaven and earth to sign an awesome cornerback?

How about the Steelers?  The Ravens, who, let’s give credit where credit is due, almost knocked the Patriots out before they won the Super Bowl two years ago?  The Bengals?  The Saints, who seem perpetually content to juggle chainsaws with their salary cap?  Shoot, maybe the Washington Terrible Word for Native Americans, again?

So, bottom line, if you have a Malcolm Butler jersey, rock that thing at every single game this year, because after that, where he ends up is anyone’s guess.

Next: Brady Suspension Reinstated

And hey, if New England does re-sign him, it’ll probably be the happiest I’ve ever been to eat my own words.