What happens next? This has been the question asked more than any other.
@MikeReiss any news from NO and Butler? What's the status
— Danny Helms Jr. (@QB12Training) March 20, 2017
Here are some of the key points of information:
April 21 is deadline for offer sheets. There is still another month for teams to sign restricted free agents to an offer sheet, which sets up the possibility that Butler's status isn't resolved until that time, and perhaps longer. If the Saints signed Butler to an offer sheet, and the Patriots didn't match, New Orleans would lose the No. 11 overall pick in the draft to New England. It is hard to imagine the Saints would be willing to part with the 11th pick.
Would Patriots be open to a different scenario? Because an offer sheet for Butler projects as a longshot, another possibility is that the sides could discuss a trade for lesser compensation (e.g. the No. 32 overall pick). Given the strong relations between Saints coach Sean Payton and Patriots coach Bill Belichick, this seems like the most likely scenario if Butler ends up moving on (Payton was complimentary of Butler after his visit). There doesn't appear to be major urgency from the Patriots in this area at this time. Perhaps that changes closer to the draft at the end of April.
Butler still hasn't signed tender. The Patriots gave Butler a first-round tender, at $3.91 million. Until Butler signs the tender, no trade could be executed.