The New York Giants’ defensive line should be stronger than it was last season due to the signings of Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A’Shawn Robinson to go along with Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. However, there is a fifth spot along the line up for grabs, with many bodies but not a lot of proven experience. Vernon Butler is one of the players fighting for that remaining roster spot.
By the numbers
Position: Interior defensive lineman
Contract: one-year, $1,040,000 | 2023 cap hit: $940,000
Career to date
Butler was drafted by the Carolina Panthers out of Lousiana Tech with the 30th pick in the 2016 draft. He missed five games that rookie season with an ankle sprain. He appeared in 52 games with the team over his four-year rookie deal but did not crack the starting lineup until partway through his fourth year. That was his best statistical season with Carolina, as he posted 32 combined tackles, six sacks, seven tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits, and three forced fumbles.
After his contract expired, Butler signed a two-year deal with the Bills in 2020. He played decently but was mostly nondescript, with 18 tackles, five for loss, two quarterback hits, one pass breakup, and one forced fumble. He did not have any sacks. The following year, Butler was once again relegated to a reserve role and did not do much.
Since then, Butler has bounced from the Raiders’ practice squad to the Giants’. He appeared in the Giants’ Week 12 matchup with the Commanders last season, logging 12 defensive snaps and four total tackles. New York signed him to a reserve/futures contract in January.
Butler originally parlayed his first-round draft status into a decent contract with the Bills, but it appears that those days are over. At this point, he’s a fringe roster player looking to find a home. His run defense grades on Pro Football Focus have steadily deteriorated since his sophomore season, and he doesn’t provide much in the way of pass rush.
Still, he’ll try to find his way to the 53-man roster with that defensive line spot available. It’s hard to see what value he could bring, but maybe the Giants will prefer his veteran presence over rookie Jordon Riley or second-year players D.J. Davidson and Ryder Anderson. A practice squad spot is still far more likely if the Giants do keep him around at all.