Malcolm Butler reportedly met with the Saints on Wednesday. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Malcolm Butler reportedly met with the Saints on Wednesday. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

It appears Malcolm Butler was very anxious to meet with the Saints.

According to Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate, Butler was at the Saints’ facility on Wednesday to meet with the team. The 27-year-old was scheduled to meet with the team on Thursday.

Butler is a restricted free agent meaning if the Saints put in an offer sheet, the Patriots would have the right to match. If not, the Saints would have to give up their own first-round pick. This means it would be the No. 11 overall pick, not the No. 32 pick the Patriots traded them for Brandin Cooks last week.

Butler was placed with a first-round tender meaning he’s on the books in 2017 for $3.91 million.

Another possibility is a trade, which has been rumored over the past few days. The Patriots could do the Saints a favor and not get their No. 11 overall pick in return, but their own first-round pick back (No. 32) and potentially other picks from the Saints. This could happen given Bill Belichick and Sean Payton’s relationship.

With how far this has gone, it would appear Butler’s days as a member of the Patriots are limited.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

When Brandin Cooks was rumored in trade talks all last week, the thought was the 23-year-old wanted out of New Orleans.

Brandin Cooks didn't request a trade out of New Orleans. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Brandin Cooks didn’t request a trade out of New Orleans. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

When Brandin Cooks was rumored in trade talks all last week, the thought was the 23-year-old wanted out of New Orleans.

Speaking on a conference call with the New England media on Wednesday, Cooks set the record straight saying that wasn’t the case and the trade was a matter of a deal working out for both teams.

“Oh boy, no, I didn’t,” Cooks said when asked if he wanted to be traded. “That was a long process. And I guess, if we could set this straight, I think a lot of that and what was going on got taken out of context and a little exaggerated. Throughout the process I felt like I had to take the blows and keep my mouth shut, which is fine. It just happened to be a great opportunity for both sides to be able to do what they want to do, and to be sent off to a good team for me.

“I think it’s a win-win situation and like I said, the rumors out there and what’s been going on and what’s been [said], I don’t let it bother me. I’m just here to play football and that’s what it’s all about.”

Cooks also had nothing but good things to say about his time with the Saints.

“Well first of all, once I found out about it, I was thankful for the opportunity to be able to play in New Orleans and the opportunity they gave me there,” Cooks said. “No bad blood. I loved everything about the organization and the people. Things just happen in this life. When I found out about [the trade], I was ecstatic to be able to come play for an organization like New England and to play for a guy like Coach Belichick, Tom [Brady], Mr. [Robert] Kraft and his family. The whole process was a blessing. As soon as I found out, I couldn’t be more thankful throughout this time.”

The receiver likely will line up all over the field with the Patriots and is signed through 2018 (team option).

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Jimmy Garoppolo rumors will only heat up between now and the draft.

Would the Patriots trade Jimmy Garoppolo to the Browns? (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Would the Patriots trade Jimmy Garoppolo to the Browns? (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

The Jimmy Garoppolo rumors will only heat up between now and the draft.

Appearing on Mighty 1090 in San Diego on Tuesday, ESPN’s John Clayton speculated given the Browns’ quarterback situation they will end up by trading for Garoppolo.

“I think in the end they have to come to some kind of Jimmy Garoppolo trade, but as far as Brock Osweiler, he is just being held up until somebody makes an offer, and I don’t think anybody is going to make an offer,” he said. “Cleveland was the only team willing to pick up that $16 million guaranteed salary and the only reason they did it was to pick up that second-round pick in 2018. What they are offering is they will give you a third-round pick if you take him because they get a fifth back. Nobody is going to do that deal because no one is excited about Brock Osweiler at this stage.

“In the end, Cleveland I think at the moment has a worse quarterback situation than they did last year because Terrelle Pryor was probably their best quarterback, RG3 [Robert Griffin] struggled and all they have right now is Brock Osweiler, who they expect to cut if they can’t get a trade, and Cody Kessler and [Kevin] Hogan. Not a great situation.

“Particularly with the Patriots not having a picks in rounds one and two, there has to be some kind of trade coming up with Jimmy Garoppolo.”

Clayton also said with the Patriots not having a first or second-round pick, that only increases the chances of them dealing him.

“Let’s put it this way, [Bill Belichick] doesn’t have picks in rounds one and two, and if they don’t get Dont’a Hightower signed, they are down four players on defense and this is a good defensive draft,” Clayton said. “They need some defensive volume. This is why I can’t see them sitting there with a quarterback who is not going to play next year because he has Tom Brady on the team, waiting to get a third round compensatory pick in 2018 when he can get a good group of draft choices now.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Dont’a Hightower is officially back with the Patriots.

Dont'a Hightower is back with the Patriots. (Dan Powers/USA Today Sports)

Dont’a Hightower is back with the Patriots. (Dan Powers/USA Today Sports)

Dont’a Hightower is officially back with the Patriots.

On Wednesday afternoon his agency confirmed the move via Twitter. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport adds the contract is for four years and worth $43.5 million with $19 million guaranteed.

The linebacker reportedly visited the Jets and Steelers earlier this week, but ultimately the 27-year-old decided to return to New England, the place he’s spent the first five years in the league at and won two Super Bowls.

The Jets reportedly offered Hightower over $12 million per year, but it seems like Hightower valued winning a little more than money.

New England gets one of its leaders on defense back in 2017, as once again it will have one of the best defenses in football.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patirots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Rex Burkhead should have a big role with the Patriots in 2017. (Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports)

Rex Burkhead should have a big role with the Patriots in 2017. (Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots added a running back on Tuesday when they signed former Bengals back Rex Burkhead.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, it is a one-year deal worth $3.15 million. This includes a $1.1 million signing bonus, $1.8 million base salary and $250,000 in per-game roster bonuses.

This may not seem like a big contract, but compared to how the Patriots usually operate with their running backs, it is.

Burkhead’s $3.15 million is the most the Patriots have paid a running back since they gave Fred Taylor $2.7 million in 2017. He will account for roughly 1.9 percent against the salary cap, and the only other backs to account for more than two percent under Bill Belichick have been Corey Dillon, Kevin Faulk and Taylor.

With the Patriots paying him this much money, it indicates he will have a large role with the team. He’s known for being a four-down back, excelling on special teams. This signing is basically an upgrade for Brandon Bolden, but he should have more of an offensive role than Bolden did, especially given his versatility of being able to run in between the tackles, as well as lining up as a receiver.

It’s also worth noting given it is a one-year deal. The Patriots will have three backs in contract years this coming season — James White, Dion Lewis and Burkhead. It will be interesting to see if the team drafts a running back because if they do, there may not be a roster spot for him given they already have four capable backs and potentially could add a fifth who specializes in running in between the tackles (ie. LeGarrette Blount).

Burkhead is another example of a solid signing by the Patriots who can do a number of different things and the team will find a way for him to contribute.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

It looks like Wednesday is decision day for Dont’a Hightower.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Hightower is slated to make a decision on which team he will sign with.

Dont'a Hightower reportedly is expected to make a decision Wednesday. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Dont’a Hightower reportedly is expected to make a decision Wednesday. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

It looks like Wednesday is decision day for Dont’a Hightower.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Hightower is slated to make a decision on which team he will sign with.

He’s deciding between the Steelers, Jets and Patriots. The 27-year-old visited with the Jets Sunday and Monday and then the Steelers Tuesday.

Hightower reportedly is seeking $10-13 million per year. The Jets are said to have offered the most money, but it appears Hightower values winning and the money might not be enough. On Tuesday, the Steelers reportedly said they would pull their offer if Hightower got on a plane to leave town because they didn’t want to be used by them.

Rapoport adds those involve expect him to return to New England.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable