After numerous stops to NFL cities in an effort to explore his options, linebacker Victor Butler has settled on New Orleans and the Saints as his new destination. Butler is now the third free agent to join the Saints after Keenan Lewis and Ben Watson, and the second defensive player. Butler figures to be a 3-4 outside linebacker for the Saints and he will battle Martez Wilson and Junior Galette for a starting spot. His contract is reportedly for two years.
Butler will have a leg up on his competition due to a familiarity with both the position (which Wilson and Galette don't have), the scheme (which Wilson and Galette don't have) and the coach as he played for Rob Ryan in Dallas last year. Butler is known as one of the up and coming linebackers in the league that has lots of promise. He was a backup behind Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware in Dallas, which are both incredibly good players, but most figured he would leave the Cowboys and become a starter elsewhere. He is also reputed for having some special teams ability. He's totalled 11 sacks in 4 seasons as a backup, so pass rushing will definitely be a specialty of his as well.
As always I'm happy to share his grades on Pro Football Focus, and Butler is a player that grades quite impressively. He finished 2011 with a +7.2 grade, good for #7 overall of 34 graded 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL. He graded only slightly behind Paul Kruger at #6 who the Saints also pursued in free agency. He also graded at +6.3 in 2010 and +5.0 in 2009, so while he hasn't had much playing time he's always performed very well when he's been in. While he did grade favorably in coverage in 2010 and 2011, that did seem to be his area of weakness in 2012. That said, his run support and pass rushing grades have been consistently outstanding.
A nice addition to the black and gold I'll say!