New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Victor Butler is likely out for the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament during Tuesday’s light-contact practice, player agent Jack Scharf confirmed Wednesday morning.
It’s a devastating injury for the former Cowboys linebacker, who was expected to help lead the Saints out of the infamous NFL record books.
The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Butler banged knees with running back Mark Ingram on Tuesday. Initially, coach Sean Payton said the injury was not serious.
Tests proved otherwise.
The best recovery timetable for such an injury is six to eight months, which would place Butler back in December or in time for the playoffs.
Both examples, though, are more the exceptions than the football rule.
Butler will likely land on injured reserve.
Before signing with the Saints, Butler was a four-year backup with the Cowboys who sought to escape the shadows of DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.
Last season in Dallas, Butler played in all 16 games, but started just one. He finished with 25 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.
He followed first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to New Orleans to prove his worth as a full-time starter.
Butler was projected to start at outside linebacker with Will Smith.
Without him, Junior Galette and Martez Wilson will fill the void at the position.
The Saints defense is coming off one of the worst season performances in NFL history. The unit allowed 7,042 yards last season, surpassing the former mark by the 1981 Baltimore Colts (6,793).
In May, Butler said he was confident the Saints defense could make a complete turnaround.
“These are guys that were Super Bowl champions at one point, Pro Bowlers, great football players,” he said.
“We’ve already got the players to be a No. 1 defense. You get a defensive coordinator in there, and a guy who’s going to be passionate and can convey that passion on to the players and I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re No. 1 in all categories next year.”
Now, they will have to do so without him.