On April 1, the New Orleans Saints signed outside linebacker Victor Butler to a two-year, $3 million contract to be a pass-rushing presence in Rob Ryan's defense. That plan is now on hold as Butler suffered what is likely a season-ending torn ACL on Tuesday, Larry Holder of The Times-Picayune reports.
According to Holder, the injury occurred when Butler collided with running back Mark Ingram, who had hauled in a swing pass during a team drill during Tuesday's practice. Butler's injury stings even more as this is the last week of offseason practices for the Saints, who canceled Wednesday's practice as the team is taking a field trip.
The 6-foot-2, 241-pound Butler was a fourth-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2009. In 63 games in largely a part-time role, Butler recorded 11 sacks with four forced fumbles. In two seasons with Ryan as his defensive coordinator, Butler had six sacks and 12 quarterbacks hits while playing in just 516 of 2,046 defensive snaps (25.2 percent).
Butler drew interest from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns during free agency before reuniting with Ryan by signing with the Saints.
According to a source with knowledge of Butler's contract, he received a $750,000 signing bonus and his $750,000 base salary in 2013 is fully guaranteed. Butler could have voided the second season of the contract and become an unrestricted free agent (with the Saints retaining the "right of first refusal") by playing in 57.5 percent of the Saints' defensive snaps or by recording 6.5 sacks this season, but neither of those scenarios will play out as Butler is expected to be placed on injured reserve. Butler also could have added $225,000 to his $1.4 million base salary in 2014, but that will not happen, either.
Butler was penciled in as a starting outside linebacker and his injury means the Saints now need 2011 third-round pick Martez Wilson, veteran Junior Gallette or 2013 sixth-round pick Rufus Johnson to step up and earn the job during training camp.
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