In training camp last year, we saw the Indianapolis Colts experimenting with playing Darius Butler at safety. It was something that we hadn’t seen before, but we began to get the impression that it was something the Colts were considering using during the season.
Sure enough, they did. And as the season went on, Butler began to see more and more time at safety, many times out of necessity but also because he proved that he was capable of filling such a role.
Last week, Butler told the Indianapolis Star’s Stephen Holder that he’s ready to make the full-time transition to safety.
Interesting tidbit to file away for later: Impending free-agent DB Darius Butler tells me he's ready to transition full time to safety.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) January 2, 2017
Butler also told Holder that he’d like to return to the Colts, but he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. It’s unclear whether the Colts will bring him back or not, but they should. Butler was very good as a slot cornerback this year, and he impressed many with his ability to play safety as well. He looked natural there, and he delivered some really impressive plays (and some big hits, like the one that was unfortunately flagged in Minnesota). The Colts already have questions about their safety position entering 2017, as while Clayton Geathers will fill one spot, the other one is up for grabs. Veteran Mike Adams is also set to become a free agent, while T.J. Green looked nowhere close to being ready to handle a starting role in his rookie season. So bringing back Butler to play safety makes a ton of sense, and he’d also give the Colts flexibility since he’s able to play the slot if needed too.
The Colts clearly value versatility in their players, such as Clayton Geathers’s ability to play down in the box more despite being a safety. At times last year, we saw the Colts even play Geathers as an inside linebacker, while Butler played safety alongside Adams. The Colts love the ability and flexibility to get creative like that, so bringing back Butler would help that cause.
He certainly did a nice job at safety this season, and it sounds like he’s ready to transition there full-time. For the Colts, he’d be a guy worth bringing back there.
On the season, Butler played in 12 games and started seven, recording 33 tackles, seven passes defensed, three interceptions, and a forced fumble. He led the team in interceptions and was tied for second on the team in passes defensed, behind only Vontae Davis and tied with Rashaan Melvin. In five seasons with the team, Butler has played in 67 games (starting 24) and has recorded 214 tackles, 41 passes defensed, 12 interceptions, (three returned for touchdowns), and six forced fumbles.