The San Diego Chargers chose former Washington Huskies linebacker Donald Butler in round three of the 2010 NFL Draft. Butler is entering the final season of his four year deal. According to U-T San Diego beat writer Michael Gehlken, contract extension talks are expected to be tabled and San Diego’s front office will try to re-sign him this offseason. San Diego could use the franchise tag on Butler, who is an unrestricted free agent after 2013.
Butler missed all of 2010 after suffering an Achilles tendon tear. He was tied for the team lead with two forced fumbles and ranked second on San Diego with 96 tackles in 2011. Butler ranked third on San Diego’s roster with 77 tackles and had three sacks in 2012. He was on pace to lead San Diego with 103 tackles, but he missed four games.
He was named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week after a game against the Kansas City Chiefs last year. Butler has become one of the vocal leaders on a San Diego defense that ranked fifth in fewest yards per rushing attempt allowed and ninth in fewest yards per play allowed in 2012.
Although Butler will enter the season at 24 years-old, the fact that he is a vocal leader could help rookie inside linebacker Manti Te’o. Butler and Te’o could be a force in the middle as inside linebackers in San Diego’s 3-4 defense.
Butler’s 2013 salary cap hit is about $1.5 million which ranks 20th on San Diego’s roster. Butler is one of the Chargers’ most valuable players, so his next contract will be worth more than what he got as a third round pick when he signed a four-year deal worth about $2.6 million.
San Diego opens the regular season on Monday at home against the Houston Texans. I expect Butler to continue to build on his success from the last two seasons which should lead to a contract extension after this year.