If Butler doesn't want to play here, then let him sign elsewhere and collect that team's first round pick; it is really that easy. If no team will sign him, then he will have to play for us this year at a discounted price in a win-now situation for the Pats.
Simply trading him for the worst 1st round pick there is doesn't make any sense when you don't have to do that. I don't know too many Pats fans who would be bummed to have Butler back on a long-term deal so it's not like his services are undesired in NE. Bill has all of the leverage here.
Agreed. But Pats don't want a locker room issue (reportedly part of the reason they traded Jamie Collins part way through season). They would rather trade him for a 1st round pick now, rather than keep him a year, risk locker room issues, have him leave in FA next offseason and then maybe receive a 3rd round pick a year after that.
Don't get me wrong, I hope the way this plays out is that Butler is back on the Pats, on a slightly discounted deal that seems "fair" to him after he's been wined and dined by the Saints, and there is a happy marriage and productive career for him here in NE for the next 5 years.
But, reading the tea leaves, he is gone, and most likely outcome will be that the Pats get their own #32 pick back. Again, I don't prefer this outcome, but it is looking more likely than not.