The devastating news that newly acquired outside linebacker Victor Butler tore his ACL on the last week of organized team activities, might have Saints fans saying, “Here we go again.”
Wait just a second on changing the team’s playoff predictions because of a single player. Adversity breeds opportunity and Butler’s injury may turn out to be one of the best things to happen to this Saints defense.
The Saints and Rob Ryan were not pinning their hopes of a great 3-4 defense on Victor Butler. His contract was for three million dollars over two years. That is not exactly cornerstone-of-the-defense type money.
He’s had a somewhat under-impressive career with Dallas and has had problems with consistent performance. The best thing he had going for him heading into the off-season was the familiarity with Rob Ryan’s defense.
If he is gone for the season as many expect, he’ll have the opportunity to help the other defensive players in grasping the scheme rather than competing for a spot in it. That could prove the difference in the overall quality of the defensive play going forward.
Despite having a small amount of cap this off-season, the New Orleans have tremendous depth and talent at the linebacker position to replace Butler.
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Martez Wilson will almost assuredly be favored to take over Butler’s position at strong-side linebacker. Will Smith and Junior Galette have been reportedly worked out at the jack position (play-making linebacker spot in the 3-4 defense) so expect that competition to stay intense.
The injury may also open up an opportunity for some of the young rookie linebackers like Rufus Johnson, Chase Thomas, and Kevin Riddick. Victor Butler will have to wait another year to physically compete in the NFL, but he can mentally assist the defense to live up to it’s potential.