Will the Patriots trade Malcolm Butler during the season?

Foxborough, MA - 9/7/2017: Patriots defenders (left to right) Trey Flowers, Eric Rowe and Malcolm Butler head back to the bench after the Chiefs scored their final touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter. The New England Patriots host the Kansas City Chiefs in their first game of the NFL season at Gillette Stadium. Jim Davis / Globe staff
Patriots defenders (left to right) Trey Flowers, Eric Rowe, and Malcolm Butler head back to the bench September 7 after the Chiefs scored their final touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter. – Jim Davis / The Boston Globe

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Think Malcolm Butler gets traded during the season, a la Jamie Collins last year? Kind of looks that way, doesn’t it? – Tim H.

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I hope it doesn’t happen. I think it will.

I hope it doesn’t for the obvious reasons, probably the same reasons you have. He’s been one of the most satisfying out-of-nowhere success stories in the history of Boston sports. His interception in the Super Bowl is one of the great clutch plays in the history of American sports, and that is not hyperbole. He always seemed like a humble, genuine person who appreciated the moment. And he’s been a superb cornerback here, making the Pro Bowl two years ago and All-Pro last year, and quality pass-defenders should be hoarded rather than discarded in the modern NFL.  How can you not like Malcolm Butler. I mean, unless you are a Seahawks fan.

But … we’ve seen this pattern before. A player in his walk year is unhappy with his contract status. Perhaps his performance slips, perhaps it doesn’t, but you begin to notice he’s losing snaps to less-heralded players. This happened to Collins last year, when he was traded to the Browns at the Oct. 31 deadline. That was a shock, and a reminder that there are few Patriots whose jobs are as secure as we believe. Butler, who lost snaps in Week 2 to Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones, seems to following a similar path. And remember: He was already involved in trade rumors with the Saints during the preseason.

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I hope I’m wrong. He’s a wonderful story who persevered and became an outstanding player at a critical position. I want them to keep him. I don’t believe they will. It won’t be a surprise if they trade him. But it will be a disappointment.

What do you think? Will the Patriots trade Malcolm Butler before the deadline? I’ll hear you in the comments.

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