Malcolm Butler is officially a member of the Patriots.
The cornerback, who was a restricted free agent, signed his tender with New England on Tuesday, meaning that he can now be traded to another team.
The Saints have been linked to Butler throughout the offseason after have him in town for visit in March. However, since New Orleans was not interested in signing him to an offer sheet, the parameters of a trade could not be discussed.
Butler had until Friday to negotiate and sign an offer sheet with another team. Had he found a suitor, New England would have had the right to match the offer or let Butler go in exchange for a first-round pick.
Under the tender, Butler will make $3.91 million and will be scheduled to reach free agency next offseason.
It makes sense for New Orleans to be interested in Butler and coach Sean Payton said at the league meetings last month the team plans to add two cornerbacks this offseason. The Saints have some quality players at the position, including Delvin Breaux and P.J. Williams, but suffered a string of injuries at the position last year.
Butler, 27, would provide an upgrade to an secondary. The man-cover cornerback is considered to be among one of the best players at his position and held quarterbacks to a 74 passer rating when targeting him last season.