Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Free Agency Bargains: Donald Butler

Daniel House tells you why the Viking should consider signing Donald Butler, as he takes another dive into the free agency bargain bin. 

Donald Butler- ILB 

Age: 25

Height: 6'1"    Weight: 242

Drafted: Third Round Selection (Pick 79) (Washington University)

2013 Stats: 13 games, 71 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception

Contract Demand:  5 years, $35 million, $15 million guaranteed

Pro Football Focus Perspective: "Butler established himself as the leader in waiting of a Chargers defense undergoing something of a transformation in personnel. His work
in the run game earned him the 15th-highest grade of all inside linebackers, hardly earth shattering but at such a small cost Butler represents tremendous value."

VC's Opinion:

-Donald Butler is great value for this team at the linebacker position and if the team decides to sign him, I think he would bolster a very disappointing group from 2013. His value is very high, but his cost comes at a very discounted rate for similar players at this position. He hasn't had experience in the 4-3 scheme, but in Mike Zimmer's defense, allegiance to a scheme doesn't seem entirely important. His talent in run support is terrific and his pursuit skills are on par with some of the best in the league. Many Chargers websites discuss the leadership role Butler has developed, while making the Chargers a top-ten defense once again. He has been compared to Ray Lewis, but needs an opportunity to sign a large contract and be the face of a defense. 

-The Vikings need help from a coverage standpoint and Butler has become more solid in this avenue over the last few seasons. Butler could play middle linebacker for this team, while Chad Greenway (if he stays), and a potential draft pick fill the holes in this area. As discussed, Butler is so undervalued that his name won't be at the forefront of free agency talks.The question surrounding Butler is his durability, which has been a concern during his five-year career in the league. He missed the duration of his rookie season with an achilles injury and battled through a groin injury, which plagued his abilities in the first half of the 2013 season. This will be factored into the decision of whether Butler is high on the Vikings free agency list come the middle of March.

-The Vikings have adequate cap space to make this move and by signing a linebacker, defensive back, and run-stuffing defensive tackle, their defense would be heading in the right direction. San Diego could apply the franchise tag to Butler, but this appears unlikely, as it would put a huge financial burden on the organization. 

Sign or Pass?: I think Butler would be a quiet signing that could help a group needing significant assistance on the defensive side of the ball in many ways. It would likely require the Vikings to release Chad Greenway, but with the recent decline in his abilities, the decision to sign Butler to a long-term deal would be a significant upgrade for the team's future. 

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