Saints release Victor Butler

METAIRIE, La. -- Pass-rusher Victor Butler and the New Orleans Saints seemed like a perfect match when he signed a two-year deal as a free agent in 2013. But as it turns out, he never wound up playing a down for the team because of injuries.

The Saints released Butler, 27, as they cut down their roster to 75 players Tuesday.

Butler was sidelined for three weeks of training camp after missing the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL.

"The challenge was just not having the reps needed to evaluate," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "We had a long talk yesterday. And, look, he's frustrated I'm sure because of the early injury and then the setback this year in training camp after the rehab. It's always difficult, especially when a player doesn't have a chance to put his best foot forward."

Butler, who began his career with the Dallas Cowboys, was due to receive $1.4 million in base salary this year, so it's hard to count this as a salary-cap move. The Saints will be charged $375,000 in prorated signing bonus money and will wind up saving less than $1 million in cap space since someone else will take Butler's spot on the 53-man roster.

Butler returned to the Saints' practice field this summer, but he suffered an ankle injury early in training camp. He returned to practice for the first time in three weeks Monday, but it was apparently his final practice with the team.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder followed defensive coordinator Rob Ryan last year from Dallas to New Orleans, where it looked like he would have an opportunity to be more of a full-time player. Butler was stuck behind standout linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer in Dallas, but he still racked up 11 sacks in four seasons.

Many scouting analysts were high on Butler's pass-rush ability and thought he would be a great fit in New Orleans. Had he been healthy, Butler might have had a chance to push for a starting job this year. But his latest injury prevented him from being able to truly audition.

Veterans Junior Galette and Parys Haralson are the Saints' projected starters at outside linebacker. The good news for the Saints is that they have developed some depth at the outside linebacker position with Galette, Haralson and veteran Keyunta Dawson as well as young roster hopefuls like Ronald Powell, Khairi Fortt, Kyle Knox and Kasim Edebali.

Among the Saints' other noteworthy roster cuts Tuesday were linebacker Kevin Reddick and cornerback Rod Sweeting, both of whom had spent the entire year on the roster as undrafted rookies in 2013, and defensive end Rufus Johnson Jr., a sixth-round draft pick in 2013.