The San Diego Chargers have made sure that a key piece of their defense will remain with the team after coming to terms with free-agent linebacker Donald Butler.
The team announced the deal on its official Twitter account:
Butler also showcased his excitement on his own account:
Feeling blessed! Y'all heard it here first! Deal is done!! SD I aint going no where!! Too excited!!— Donald Butler (@DAButler56) February 28, 2014
While the terms of the new contract are not yet known, Albert Breer of NFL Network notes that this is a multi-year deal:
Chargers announce multi-year agreement with LB Donald Butler.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 28, 2014
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com later provided financial details:
Terms: Donald Butler’s multi-tiered deal with #Chargers. First 3 years worth just under $20M. Option for 4 more years worth $8M to $9.5M per— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 3, 2014
Throughout the past three years, Butler has been a key player on San Diego's defense. He has been in the top three on the team in tackles in each season and finished second behind only Eric Weddle this year with 84.
The 25-year-old player is especially helpful against the run, helping the unit rank 12th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game. As a team, the Chargers ranked 11th in NFL in points allowed.
Beyond just his statistics, Butler usually had a knack for coming through in big situations. The linebacker finished with 12 tackles and a forced fumble in the first round of the playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals.
In the second round, Butler had arguably his best play of the season when he picked off Peyton Manning in the end zone. Steve Wyche of NFL Network had this to say at the time:
The review is to let everyone see that Donald Butler is a really good player— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) January 5, 2014
While the Chargers could not get past the Denver Broncos in the postseason, they still had a successful year, finishing among the top-eight teams in the league. They are now looking to keep the core together to ensure more wins in the future.
This deal will keep Butler in the middle of the defense alongside Manti Te'o for next season and likely many more.
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