Saturday, March 1, 2014
Donald Butler vows to improve durability
By Eric D. Williams
Middle linebacker Donald Butler was pleased to sign a new multiyear deal with the San Diego Chargers on Friday before heading out for a previously scheduled vacation to Maui.
Butler considered waiting it out and testing his value out on the open market once free agency began on March 11, but ultimately San Diego is where he wanted to be.
Donald Butler proved key for the Chargers in their playoff win in Cincinnati.
“It’s always been one of my goals when I came in [to stay with the team that drafted me],” Butler said. “I know it’s not as common anymore because of free agency. But I figured whatever team did invest in me to begin with, I wanted to do the same and try to stay with them for the remainder of my career.
“Obviously, that thought crosses your mind [to test free agency]. But again, I wanted to be here in San Diego. And if we could get close enough to where I thought my value was at, I would ink it in a heartbeat.”
For Chargers general manager Tom Telesco, retaining Butler remained one of the team’s top priorities heading into the free-agency period.
“He’s an integral part of our future,” Telesco said. “He’s a leader for us on the field and in the locker room. And as a player he’s very instinctive. He’s aggressive, and he has a nose for the football.”
Butler understands the Chargers have invested in him as one of the foundational players on defense. And he wants to hold up his end of the bargain, which means playing a full, 16-game season. The University of Washington product has missed 24 of a possible 64 games in his four-year career with the Chargers, including four games each in the 2012 and 2013 seasons because of a similar groin injury.
“My biggest thing is I need to be on the field for all 16 games,” Butler said. “Obviously, the last two years, both years, I missed four games because of the same injury. To me, that’s unacceptable.
“You get paid to play all 16 games, and so my biggest thing is now I fully understand what I have to do this offseason to make sure that, come the regular season, I’m ready to go -- and that’s all 16 games, along with the playoff run we intend to make.”
Butler went on to say he’s looking forward to beginning San Diego’s offseason program April 22.
Another reason Butler chose to remain in San Diego is he believes the Chargers are building a team that can win on a consistent basis and challenge for a Super Bowl.
“We've got a couple other positions that the organization needs to take care of, and then obviously free agency starts, and we’ll see what we can do with that,” Butler said. “I think we have a good nucleus of young guys here that the organization wants to keep together, and really continue to build for the future. It’s exciting.”
Butler says he feels no additional pressure to perform with the new deal.
“I plan to continue doing what I've been doing, which is helping this team win ball games,” Butler said. “And that’s me being a captain and a leader, helping out Manti [Te’o] and doing whatever I can. If anything, there’s less pressure. I felt like last year I played with more pressure than now. Now, you go out there and play and prove that you’re deserving.
“It’s a burden off of my shoulders. I don’t have to worry about it because I know that I’ll be a Charger for years to come, and I couldn't be more happy.”