Texans reportedly interested in 2 top Patriots free agents

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The odds of the San Francisco 49ers going after New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler reduced when they signed Richard Sherman on Saturday.

This marks the second straight year a Patriots cornerback will leave in free agency to join the Titans.

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, the Butler deal is worth $61 million, with more than $30 million guaranteed. That's a massive pay raise for the 27-year-old, who played the 2017 season on a one-year, $3.91 million tender and made $600,000 or less in each of his first three National Football League seasons.

So, Butler returned to the Patriots in 2017, and he had a self-described up-and-down season that culminated with Belichick's shocking decision not to play him on defense in Super Bowl LII.

Of course, 49ers fans remember Butler's goal-line interception of the Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to seal Super Bowl XLIX during his rookie season in 2014.

Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune called New Orleans' interest in Butler "nothing new as the Saints hosted him on a visit last March while he was a restricted free agent".

An overlooked prospect in 2014 out of Division II West Alabama, he had been invited to New England for a tryout and earned a contract on the offseason 90-man roster nearly a month after the draft. This past season was his most uneven since taking over for Darrelle Revis as a starter, but he still played a team-high 97.8 percent of defensive snaps and led all Patriots defenders with 12 pass breakups. That offseason, the Patriots signed corner Stephon Gilmore to a five-year, $65 million contract.