Saints general manager Mickey Loomis all but shut the door Wednesday on New Orleans making a move for Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler.
Rumors had been swirling ever since Butler held out from signing his restricted free agent offer sheet with the Patriots. He has since signed a one-year, $3.9 million deal, and the Saints have been unwilling to give up one of their two first-round picks in the upcoming draft to acquire him.
Loomis said the two sides “haven’t really had any discussion for quite some time” and he "didn't yet know" if Butler was still an option, according to ESPN.com .
The Saints are in desperate need of a cornerback, but the draft is filled with potential starters. One of New Orleans' two first-round picks was acquired via the Patriots in the Brandin Cooks trade earlier this offseason.
For a deal that once looked certain, this proposed trade flickered out in a hurry.
“Look, he's with New England, and I don't think anything's changed. I don't see anything being imminent,” Saints coach Sean Payton said Tuesday.
It makes sense for the Saints to pass on Butler. At 27, he's older than any player the team would draft this weekend, he would cost the Saints at least a first-round pick, and New Orleans would have to sign him to a massive contract.
The Saints are in an odd period of hoping to scratch out a couple more championship runs while Drew Brees finishes his career, and also preparing for the future. They are unlikely to take on any substantial salary cap risks at this point if it can be avoided.
At No. 11, New Orleans could target former Ohio State star Marshon Lattimore if he were to fall. If not, they will have a bevy of options with the No. 32 and No. 42 picks.