When the Saints signed outside linebacker Victor Butler on Thursday they both addressed the huge need for a pass-rushing force from the outside and continued the offseason trend of bringing in young talent on defense.
But that young talent has little NFL experience.
Butler, who played just 162 pass-rush snaps for the Dallas Cowboys last year, was stuck behind DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer on the depth chart. He still came up with three sacks, three quarterback hits and nine quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus (membership required).
Along with Junior Galette and Martez Wilson, Butler is expected to take part in an outside linebacker rotation that features three up-and-coming pass-rush specialists, as the Saints make the transition to a 3-4 defensive scheme.
Wilson played just 47 pass-rush snaps last season at outside linebacker, and Galette played none as he was used as a 4-3 defensive end. Galette was the Saints’ most effective pass-rusher at defensive end last year with five sacks in just 201 pass-rush snaps.
About the only thing this trio has is upside. With all three being 26 years of age or younger, upside may well be enough for New Orleans during this transition year.
I believe the Saints made the right move by holding tight with Wilson and Galette and bringing in the young Butler. This approach shows that the team is looking to build with young talent instead of slapping a bandage on the roster by adding aging veterans.
Instead of spending big money to bring high-priced talent, New Orleans stayed within its means to answer the question mark at outside linebacker. There wasn’t much money to spend in the first place, but acting the way it did, the front office can now ask a couple of current Saints veterans to restructure their contracts so the team can pursue free agents like cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.