The New Orleans Saints continue to pursue New England cornerback Malcolm Butler, a Pro Bowler and a second-team All-Pro who visited the Saints on Thursday and left without a deal.
New Orleans believes the visit was an early step in a long process that involves contract negotiations and a potential trade, and Saints head coach Sean Payton has been uncharacteristically open about the team's pursuit of the cornerback.
The Saints took the first step in what could be a complicated transaction by having Malcolm …
Payton offered an evaluation of Butler's talents in a Friday morning interview with San Diego radio show Hardwick & Richards.
"He's a sharp, sharp kid," Payton said. "He's not too far from here, as far as his hometown. His story, coming out of a small town in Mississippi, through a junior college to West Alabama, it's pretty amazing. The first three years he's had in this league, shoot, he's had a tremendous amount of success."
Butler, who has six interceptions in the two seasons he's been a starter for the Patriots, also made an impression in joint practices between the Patriots and Saints in recent years.
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"He's humble, but when you watch the tape, he plays with a chip on his shoulder," Payton said. "We practiced with New England, now, in that three-year time frame, twice, so there's a lot of additional practice tape that we have a chance to look closely at."