Patriots will face Malcolm Butler in 2018; positioned for high compensatory pick

After being benched for Super Bowl LII, it was unlikely that Malcolm Butler would re-sign with the Patriots. Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With cornerback Malcolm Butler intending to join the Tennessee Titans on a five-year, $61 million contract with $30 million in bonuses/guarantees, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, there are a few trickle-down effects:

1. A contract at that level will position the New England Patriots for a possible high compensatory draft choice in 2019. If it ends up being a third-rounder, which is the highest possible, that will be an important chip for them to preserve in their decision-making process this offseason (the compensatory formula is complex and takes into account the net loss of compensatory free agents, among other things). The Patriots already agreed to give up their 2019 third-round draft pick in the trade to acquire defensive tackle Danny Shelton, and this would replenish that pick.

2. The idea of Butler returning to the Patriots after what unfolded in Super Bowl LII -- when he didn't play a defensive snap -- was far-fetched. That decision by Bill Belichick, which the coach said was a result of him putting the players and game plan on the field that he believed gave the Patriots the best chance to win, remains a hot-button topic among part of the team's fan base because it was unconventional. In essence, Belichick decided that safety Jordan Richards (first half) and cornerback Johnson Bademosi (second half) gave the Patriots a better chance to win as the sixth defensive back in the dime package over Butler, who had played 98 percent of the defensive snaps in the regular season. My opinion: Something still doesn't completely add up.

3. The Patriots visit the Titans in 2018, which means they'll be going up against the Super Bowl XLIX hero in his first season in Tennessee.

4. New England's current cornerback depth chart is headlined by Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones, Ryan Lewis and Jomal Wiltz. There is still the possibility of an addition, most likely to come from what is considered a strong draft class.

5. Tennessee is a great spot for Butler, and he will have a good chance to thrive. The presence of former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel as a first-year head coach, coupled with former Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan in the defensive backfield, is one of the best things that could have happened to Butler.

6. Butler earned everything he has coming to him. He'll forever be revered in New England for saving Super Bowl XLIX.