The New Orleans Saints have agreed a deal to sign free-agent outside linebacker Victor Butler. The signing adds a player who could be key to the success of the Saints new 3-4 defense.
Butler has spent his first four pro seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, as the chief backup to DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. He is a natural edge-rusher in a 3-4 front.
At 6'2" and 245 pounds, Butler has the right frame and quickness to collapse the pass pocket from the outside. The 25-year-old has showcased some good pass-rush potential in Dallas.
He has logged 11 sacks in limited action, including six since 2010. His ability to apply pressure as a true 3-4 outside linebacker, made Butler a coveted player in this year's free agency market. 3-4 teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles, were all keen, according to ProFootballTalk.com.
By opting to sign with the Saints, Butler will again work with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. He directed the Cowboys defense during the last two seasons and should know how to help Butler thrive.
After being limited to a situational role with the Cowboys, Butler has the chance to be the featured weapon for the Saints defense.
He is easily the unit's best pure 3-4 pass-rusher. Junior Galette and Martez Wilson are similar hybrid rush linebackers, but are unfamiliar with the 3-4. While veteran defensive end Will Smith faces a tough transition to outside linebacker.
Butler's knowledge and experience of the 3-4 should give him the edge. Ryan will likely move him around the formation and blitz him on a regular basis, just like he did with Ware.
The Saints defense managed just 30 sacks in 2012. Signing Butler boosts their ability to create pressure and comes on the heels of NFC South rivals the Atlanta Falcons adding pass-rusher Osi Umenyiora.
The Saints have the talent along the line to make their 3-4 switch work, with youngsters Akiem Hicks and Cameron Jordan. Yet an outside pass-rusher like Butler will be key to the scheme's success.