The strength of the Indianapolis Colts' defense in 2014 was their cornerback position, led by Vontae Davis' elite level of play all year. Greg Toler, the other outside cornerback, wasn't great but he did a solid job with what the Colts asked him to do, while slot cornerback Darius Butler excelled in his role.
For 2015, the Colts are bringing back the trio of cornerbacks, having re-signed Butler this offseason to a 2-year, $5 million contract. It was a great move for the team and one that they needed to do - in fact, he was number one on our list of the Colts' unrestricted free agents who they should re-sign. As I mentioned at the time, it's not easy to replace a player who can provide very good play in the slot at cornerback, which Butler can do.
In his three years since coming to the Colts, Butler has done a good job as their slot cornerback. According to Pro Football Focus, he has spent 967 snaps in coverage from the slot with the team (including playoffs), being thrown at 161 times and allowing 94 receptions for 1,158 yards and six touchdowns while picking off four passes - allowing an opposing passer rating of 82.8. While at first those numbers might not seem tremendous, consider that in 2014 the average opposing passer rating allowed by slot cornerbacks (who played at least 25% of the snaps) was somewhere around 95 and in 2013 it was right around 97. In other words, Butler has been well above average in his performance for the Colts.
With Vontae Davis and Greg Toler fulfilling specific roles in the Colts' press man coverage, the same could be said of Darius Butler, who operates out of the slot and often gives the Colts a matchup advantage against opposing teams' slot receivers - or, at least, an advantage over other teams' slot cornerbacks. Butler isn't a corner that you'd necessarily want playing outside often, but that's not his role with the Colts. The role that he does play, however, is one that he does quite well.
Looking forward to 2015, his roster spot seems very secure, and the only question about the cornerback position is who the fourth corner will be, though even that leans toward rookie D'Joun Smith. The team's top trio, however, is returning and they will bring back one of the league's best cornerbacks period in Vontae Davis and one of the league's best slot cornerbacks in Darius Butler, hoping to once again make up one of the league's best cornerback trios.