The San Diego Chargers knew the best course of action concerning Donald Butler was to keep him in a Charger uniform for years to come. Keeping Butler allows John Pagano to invest deeply and trust his middle linebacker to lead a young group on defense, which projects to get younger in the upcoming draft.
The contract terms still have not surfaced, but when comparing salaries to the top-two paid inside linebackers in the NFL we can assume Butler’s salary falls somewhere in the $5.5-6.0 million range.
Philadelphia Eagles linebacker, DeMeco Ryans currently earns a $6.8 million base salary. The period of his first three years was statistically impressive with him racking up 311 tackles, seven fumble recoveries, and 6.5 sacks. The other top linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers player, Lawrence Timmons earns $6.75 million and his first three years saw 101 tackles, three fumble recoveries, and 12 sacks. Butler through three years has 210 tackles, along with two fumble recoveries, and 5.5 sacks.
The business side of football could have lured Butler away for a bigger payday. Regardless of that, the Chargers have invested in Butler’s performance and leadership for the future. Although only 25, he has been integral to executing the defense and assisting the improvement of it alongside veteran Eric Weddle.
Butler cites former Chargers’ linebacker Takeo Spikes as a role model. Understanding his role in leadership has been a blessing to Pagano, who has been with Butler since his days at linebackers’ coach. The goal for the Chargers isn’t just to have Butler groom Manti Te’o, but have two smart young guys play inside linebacker.
Butler has expressed intent to stay in a Chargers jersey a long time, and hopefully within that time frame the Chargers can reward him with not just money—but with an accompanying Super Bowl ring.