Malcolm Butler

New England Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler during an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini) ORG XMIT: FBO10

Winslow Townson

The New Orleans Saints flirted heavily with New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler in the offseason, bringing in the restricted free agent for a visit and sparking months worth of trade rumors.

Butler will be back on Sunday, part of an impressive 1-2 punch New England has built at cornerback with Stephon Gilmore. 

New Orleans knew the budding star's game well, but the Saints wanted to get to know the person behind the famous Super Bowl interception.

"It was really to find out more about the player outside of what we see on tape," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "His story is interesting. He’s from the Gulf South area. It was good to get a chance to meet and visit with a player like that."

Butler went undrafted out of West Alabama, pulled off a surprise by making the Patriots, beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl and then developed into a Pro Bowler. 

Payton remembers going to Alabama's Pro Day to watch safety Haha Clinton-Dix, a Pro Bowler in Green Bay now, and after Butler's big play, he remembers wondering how the Saints missed out on him.

"I’m driving to work the next day (thinking) who was that, let’s see the report," Payton said. "And there he was at the Alabama Pro Day. We were too busy watching the other guy. It’s a lesson. They show up to work, pay close attention to it."

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.