The San Diego Chargers will be making a big mistake if they decide to let Donald Butler leave in free agency this offseason. At just 25 years old, Butler has shown the Chargers his versatility and overall play-making ability in a mere three years at the NFL level. Sure, San Diego might want to get cheap and let Butler walk considering the Chargers did use a second-round pick on inside linebacker Manti Te’o in April, but that’s not the route I would go if I was the team’s general manager.
Speaking of whom, Chargers GM Tom Telesco tried his best to not show his hand about Butler’s shot at a long-term contract. Trying to remain somewhat incognito, Telesco stated on Wednesday that “Hopefully, [Butler] likes the direction this team is going in, and hopefully, he wants to be here.”
Moving on, Butler’s health might be the one thing that keeps Telesco from offering the linebacker a five or six-year deal. Despite not missing a single game in his rookie campaign, Butler has combined to miss eight games in the last two seasons, which just isn’t acceptable for such a young player. Even still, Butler has managed to shine brightest when his number is called. For instance, the former Washington Huskies standout really answered the bell come playoff time in 2013 — Butler’s two-game postseason statistics include a forced fumble and an interception.
At the end of the day, San Diego can’t afford to show Butler the door. Instead, the Chargers should re-sign the youthful linebacker so that the team’s defense can be as well-positioned to win as the offense.