Thursday, January 31, 2013

Colts 2013 free agents: Darius Butler

A coach once told me the secret to being a good cornerback was to have a huge ego and a short memory. For much of his career, Darius Butler didn't have those qualities, but he seems to have acquired them in Indy.

After a promising career at UConn and some great predraft workouts, Butler was chosen by the Patriots in the second round of the 2009 draft. His rookie year was up and down (which is often the case with corners), but he started the first two games of 2010, and was pummeled, being beaten badly and missing tackles. The Patriots benched and eventually cut him. He was picked up by the Panthers, but barely played before he was injured and left with a settlement.

In 2012, the Colts were already desperate for corners when injuries struck the position. With just about every other option exhausted, they signed Butler and put him on the field.

To almost everyone's surprise, he played like a savvy veteran. Quarterbacks had an 39.5 passer rating against him. A quarterback who throws nothing but incompletes gets a 39.6 rating. If that doesn't impress you -- it should, it was the second-best in the NFL of any player who played over 250 downs -- compare it to the 93.5 scored by Vontae Davis, the 97.0 by Cassius Vaughn, the 105.0 by Jerraud Powers and the 113.6 by Josh Gordy, the other Colts' corners who saw playing time in 2012. He still looked shaky at times in some man situations, but excelled in zones. He was especially effective as a slot corner. Despite his limited playing time, Butler led the Colts with four picks, two of which he returned for touchdowns.

He's not exactly a strong safety, but is a better tackler than many corners, and can blitz. He'll contribute on special teams and can even fill in as a return man in a pinch.

That Butler was terrible in New England and Carolina, but spectacular in Indy can, for the most part, be attributed to confidence and a shortening of his memory.

Will other teams bid for him?: Probably, but offers will not come from New England or Carolina.

Chances he'll be back: Very good. The Colts have plenty of cap room, a crying need for corners and a good relationship with Butler. For his part, Butler has a place in which his skills are properly applied and he's appreciated.

1 comment:

Roy said...

Looks like he deserves another contract.