As the craziness of the free agency frenzy has come and gone, the NFL has reached one of the quiet periods of the offseason. With a little less then a month before the city of Philadelphia hosts the NFL Draft, it is more obvious now what holes teams have left to fill. It is clear that the biggest gap on this Philadelphia Eagles roster is the cornerback position.
The only corners with real NFL experience on the current roster are Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks—who is coming off a serious leg injury—and Patrick Robinson, who the Eagles signed to a one-year deal last Monday. This group is not going to cut it when looking at the wide receivers around the rest of the NFC East, with Odell Beckham, DeSean Jackson, and Dez Bryant drooling at this weak corps.
Recently, rumors spread that Richard Sherman may be on the trading block, though his potential fit with the Eagles would be up for debate. One name who has been linked to trade rumors all offseason is New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler. Butler, the Super Bowl XLIX hero, was given a first round restricted free-agent tender that he has yet to sign. It was made known after the Patriots signed cornerback Stephon Gillmore, however, that Butler was unhappy with the move, rising the possibility that he may be traded.
Now the question is: does Malcolm Butler fit with Jim Schwartz and the Eagles defense? Butler who is 27, coming off another stellar season where he made 48 tackles and added 4 interceptions, played multiple defensive schemes in New England, so he should be able to do whatever Schwartz asks of him on the outside. He was very solid in man coverage, something that this current Eagles defensive scheme asks of the corners. The Eagles are clearly very weak at the cornerback position, and Butler would instantly be the best cornerback on the team. After handing out contracts to wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, the Eagles are very limited with cap space.
That should not affect their interest in Butler, considering his restricted free-agent tender is only a $3.91 million cap hit. Yes, the tender would only be equal to a one-year deal, but if the Eagles are impressed with Butler’s play they will have a lot more cap space next offseason to be able to give Butler a pricey extension.
Another main question is if the Eagles have a legitimate interest in trading for Butler, at what price would they be able to pry him away from the reigning Super Bowl champions? Considering it was made known that Butler is currently unhappy with his situation in New England, teams could use that as some leverage in negotiations. With Butler potentially only under contract for one year, Howie Roseman should be cautious to not give up too much for the Super Bowl XLIX MVP. The Patriots do not own a first or second round pick in this years draft, so if the Eagles did offer a second-round pick for Butler, that is something that may have Bill Belichick and his staff intrigued.
There is too much uncertainty surrounding Butler for the Eagles to offer the 14th overall selection for him. The Eagles could also try to package players like Jason Kelce, Mychal Kendricks, or even Jordan Matthews, along with a draft pick in attempts to acquire Butler’s services.
For this season and years to follow, Howie Roseman should be able to fit Butler into the teams salary cap plans while adding some much needed top end skill at the cornerback position. If the Eagles truly want to upgrade the cornerback position, Roseman should try to do whatever it takes to land Butler without giving up their first-round pick, even if that includes giving up a second or third round draft pick or a key veteran.
Photo: Jeffrey Beall (via: Wikimedia Commons)