Rest easy, Patriots fans: The Malcolm Butler drama is over in New England.

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported Wednesday that the Patriots cornerback returned to Foxborough this week to participate in optional offseason workouts, per a source informed of Butler’s attendance.


The 27-year-old cover man skipped the first phase of the team’s workouts in April while his future in New England hung in the balance amid trade whispers.

Speculation that Butler could be shipped to the Saints all but died, though, after the draft. It’s a manageable fate for the fourth-year corner. Playing this season on a one-year, $3.91 million pact, Butler is slated to hit free agency next March. Until that happens, he remains locked into a starting role in New England across from talented free-agent pickup Stephon Gilmore.

If Butler felt destined to wind up with the Saints, New Orleans put that concept to bed when they selected rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore out of Ohio State with the No. 11 pick in last week’s draft.

As for the Patriots, their refusal to deal Butler or backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is just another reminder that New England — instead of taking its foot off the gas — is gearing up for another bona fide push at the Lombardi Trophy.

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