Malcolm Butler, who has starred for the New England Patriots since his Super Bowl heroics in February 2015, is reaching the final stages of restricted free agency.

Butler has been permitted to negotiate with all NFL teams since March 9. So far there has been no word of an offer sheet from another team, which has been unlikely due to the compensation required – any team would have to part with its first-round pick to sign Butler.

Although there appeared to be momentum between Butler and the New Orleans Saints, there has been no trade yet, either.

What’s next? Butler, a Pro Bowler in 2015, can continue to speak with other teams through April 21. If he has not received an offer sheet by then – or one he deems worthy of signing – Butler eventually must sign his tender from the Patriots.

His timing will be crucial.

Butler can wait until June 15 to sign the tender, which would be worth $3.91 million for the 2017 season. If he has not signed the tender by June 15, the Patriots can reduce his offer to 110 percent of his 2016 salary – about $660,000. He will not allow that to happen.

The real deadline here is the NFL draft. By signing his tender before the draft, which begins April 27, Butler can increase his chances of leaving New England.

There is a strong possibility Butler walks in free agency after the 2017 season. The Patriots probably want compensation for Butler sooner rather than later, just as they did with Chandler Jones in the 2016 offseason.

If Butler signs his tender prior to the draft, the Patriots can receive 2017 picks via a trade (with New Orleans or someone else).

If the Pats decide to keep Butler for 2017 and he leaves in free agency next offseason, a compensatory draft pick would come their way in 2019.

And remember, the Patriots cannot trade Butler during the NFL draft if he has not signed his tender. So Butler can influence his future here.

By choosing to sign his tender after the draft, he can increase his odds of staying in New England in 2017. The Patriots would be less inclined to deal Butler if a trade netted a draft pick in 2018 rather than 2017 (and that would be the case if Butler signs his tender in May or June).

Why would Butler want to remain in New England for 2017?

In the absence of any desirable contract offers, Butler’s primary objective this season will be maximizing his 2018 free- agency value. There is a strong argument to be made that Butler’s value would be at its peak after another season in New England, where he plays on a great defense and in a familiar scheme. There is an argument to be made that a 2017 season on a random team – perhaps one with a less-than-desirable scheme or surrounding talent –would harm Butler’s stock.

This is one element Butler must consider.

Ultimately, Butler’s timing here will go a long way in deciding his home for the 2017 season.

Tom Brady’s 2015 Super Bowl jersey was on display for everyone to see at the Hall at Patriot Place on Saturday, giving fans the opportunity to see his grass-stained jersey from New England’s victory over Seattle.

FALCONS: Atlanta agreed to a $69 million, five-year contract extension with cornerback Desmond Trufant.