Contract talks are yet to heat up as free agency approaches in 15 days. The Chargers have a huge decision to make if Butler chooses not to re-sign with the team. Who would fill in that huge gap in the middle? Both parties have expressed interest in staying together long term, but at the end of the day the NFL is still a business and every player wants to get paid. Losing Butler will mean we will be missing a very important piece of our defense. He is an athletic middle linebacker and when healthy he’s an impact player on the field. One of the knocks on Butler though has been his health, he’s been hit with the injury bug since his rookie season and hasn’t been able to withstand an entire season. Hopefully that can help lower his price tag to be able to keep him in beautiful San Diego. Butler racked up 0.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 84 tackles which lead all Chargers linebackers. Below will few players the Chargers should target to try and fill the void via the 2014 NFL Draft or free agency if Donald Duck decides to pursue the dough.
Top 5 possible replacements
Shayne Skov out of Stanford- Is just one nasty linebacker that is always in the backfield and around the ball. One of the things I love about Skov is that he plays fast and aggressive. He measures in at 6’3, 245 pounds. He is likely going to be selected in the 2nd or 3rd round but if he slips to the 4th round Telesco should defiantly pull the trigger on this guy. This highlight video below speaks for itself.
Christian Jones out of FSU- A versatile, rangy, athletic linebacker that can play inside or outside linebacker. At 6’3 he has the size and speed to cover a lot of ground. He can rush the passer and drop in coverage as well. I would not mind the Chargers using a 5th or 6th round pick on him. Below are a few highlights of Christian Jones
Arthur Moats- Is an experienced, versatile player that play inside and outside linebacker. Moats possesses good size (6’2) and speed. One of the things I like about Moats is that he’s an efficient tackler and that’s something the 2013 Chargers lacked. He also has youth in his side at 25 years old and it’s something Tom Telesco has expressed interest in.l.
Wesley Woodyard- I wouldn’t mind the Chargers plucking away one of Broncos linebackers. Last year they took one ours, in the aging Shaun Phillips. According to NFL.com Woodyard racked up 84 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 interception. Similar statistics to Butler’s season. Woodyard is still pretty young at 27 years old. I know Woodyard is 4-3 Linebacker, but I’m sure coach Pagano will have some exotic defensive schemes to get the best players on the field and put them in the best position to make plays.
Reggie Walker- Every Charger fan should know about this guy. He was brought in as free agent that had played under Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona. Walker played an important role for the Chargers defense all season long. He filled in for Butler admirably well when he was hurt and also helped out at outside linebacker. Walker is an underrated linebacker that has decent pass rush ability and coverage skills. Hopefully Chargers can resign this guy too. What I like about him is that he plays his butt off on the field and knows the Chargers defensive scheme.
All these linebackers have one thing in common, that is their versatility and it’s just one many traits and abilities Tom Telesco looks for in a player. Let’s all just hope Butler makes the right decision and re-signs with the San Diego Super Chargers!
Thanks for reading!