March 28, 2013

Ryan Brings OLB Victor Butler Over

New Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has secured one of his former players from Dallas, free agent outside linebacker Victor Butler.

A fourth round pick of the Cowboys in 2009 out of Oregon State, Butler was a reserve all four seasons for the Cowboys, collecting 11 career sacks, 3.0 last year in 12 games.  He's shown only glimpses of potential as a pass rusher, but rarely cracked into the defensive rotation with Dallas.

Butler visited the Saints, Browns, Steelers and Eagles during free agency and decided to re-join Ryan in New Orleans with a new two-year contract. The Saints, reportedly with only $2 million in cap space before signing Butler, will have to make some roster moves to clear up space to sign their draft picks, much less any more free agents.

At 6'2, 248, Butler is a fast one-dimensional pass rusher with no starting experience and is not regarded as a player ready to start full time. A two-year deal is a good one for Butler - giving him a chance to earn a starting job and show real production before hitting free agency again at the age of 27 in two years.  The second year of the deal can reportedly void as well.

UPDATE: Butler's two year contract is worth $3 million with $1.5 million guaranteed.

Butler barely played a full season spread over four years in Dallas, to show how little he was used, but likely would have been the heir to Anthony Spencer's starting job in Dallas had Spencer chosen not to stay with the Cowboys under the franchise tag.

Butler was the last member of the Cowboys' abysmal 12-pick 2009 draft class, of which more than half are not on an NFL roster, which also included a first round pick traded away for WR Roy Williams, who would play only two seasons.  Dallas made Butler a surprise fourth round pick, having started only one season for the Beavers and with late-round grades from many scouts.  Butler had collected 22.5 sacks while playing defensive end in his final two years at Oregon State, also playing special teams, and made waves with a good pro day including a 4.72 40.

Ryan's familiarity is expected to give Butler an advantage over Martez Wilson for one of the starting OLB jobs, but in reality the Saints will be using multiple players to rush the pass out of their new 3-4 alignment.  Butler's special teams experience will also be leveraged.

Meanwhile, Ryan and the rest of the Saints' coaching and scouting staff were onsite at LSU campus yesterday for their pro day, which featured 3-4 OLB prospects Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, and other defensive prospects including defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu, Tharold Simon, and Eric Reid, athlete Russell Shephard, defensive linemen Lavar Edwards, Bennie Logan and inside linebacker Kevin Minter.  Last week Ryan was also on hand for the University of Georgia Pro Day which featured 3-4 OLB prospects Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree, defensive backs Bacarri Rambo, Sanders Commings and Shawn Williams, and defensive linemen Johnathan Jenkins, Cornelius Washington and Kwame Geathers.

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