Friday morning, the Indianapolis Colts announced the re-signing of safety Darius Butler. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the deal is for one year and $3 million. And, it could raise to $4.5 million with incentives.
New Colts general manager Chris Ballard has spoken multiple times about his desire to have a strong locker room, and this move reflects that. Butler is one of the defensive leaders for the Colts and one of the favorites among his teammates.
After primarily playing the nickel in Indianapolis from 2012-’15, Butler began his development as a safety during 2016 training camp. He still occasionally played nickel but made the full-time switch to safety when starter Clayton Geathers was lost for the year after Week 11. Pro Football Focus graded Butler out very well overall in 2016, giving him an 82.6 grade. Geathers received a grade of 81.3. So, if the two are starting together in 2017 and remain healthy, it gives the Colts an above-average safety tandem.
The big concern with both Butler and Geathers is their durability. Butler is 31 years old and has dealt with a slew of nagging injuries over the last several years. Overall, he has missed 13 games in his five seasons with the Colts. That includes four last year. Geathers is a very physical player, and because of it, he suffered a concussion and a neck injury that caused him to miss the last several weeks last season.
Behind Butler and Geathers is second-year player T.J. Green. Green was forced into action earlier than expected last year in the occasional absences of Geathers and Mike Adams. If Green comes into camp looking much-improved from 2016, it is feasible that he starts at free safety over Butler. But for now, Butler seems like the safer bet. The move appeared to reinvigorate his career, so it could be exciting to see what he brings to the table as a full-time starting safety.
Jake Arthur is the AFC South Division Manager, Indianapolis Colts Team Manager, Assistant Director of NFL Content and a Featured Analyst for Pro Football Spot. He is also a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @JakeArthurPFS on Twitter as well as on Facebook. Check out his other work HERE.