NEW ORLEANS -- An MRI indicates that New Orleans outside linebacker Victor Butler has a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but it is too early to speculate on whether he will miss the whole season, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday.
The person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Saints have not disclosed the injury, said Butler will travel to Gulf Breeze, Fla., next week to seek a second opinion from noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. The person said there remains hope that even if Butler starts the season on injured reserve, he could return as Ray Lewis did for the defending champion Baltimore Ravens late last season.
The Times-Picayune first reported the MRI results for Butler, who went down during a non-contact practice on Tuesday after a collision with running back Mark Ingram.
When Sean Payton addressed Butler's injury after Tuesday's practice, he said he was under the impression that the players had simply knocked knees and that Butler was not seriously injured.
"I think he is going to be fine, actually," Payton said. "So we are fortunate."
However, the initial MRI indicates that Butler and his new team were not fortunate at all.
On Wednesday, Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis did not respond to requests for comment on the apparent seriousness of Butler's injury. A team spokesman said only that the Saints would have no update.
The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Butler arrived in New Orleans this year, signing a two-year, $3 million free-agent contract, after spending his first four seasons in Dallas, which selected him out of Oregon State in the fourth round of the 2009 draft.
Butler who was a defensive end in college and switched to outside linebacker in Dallas' 3-4 defensive scheme, served a backup role behind DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer with the Cowboys. He was expected to compete for a starting role under new Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who was Butler's defensive coordinator in Dallas for the past two seasons and who heavily recruited Butler to New Orleans.
Last season, Butler played in all 16 games with one start and was credited with a career-high 24 tackles, three sacks, a tackle for a loss, three passes defended and a forced fumble. He also played on special teams, a role in which he was credited with four stops and a forced fumble.
Butler had benchmarks in his contract that would have allowed him to void the second year of the deal and enter free agency after one season -- something he was expected to do as a starter.
The first $1.5 million of Butler's contract is guaranteed, but the injury may force him to play out his contract in New Orleans before getting his next shot at free agency.