After three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, receiver Brice Butler’s contract has expired. Based on the veteran’s recent comments, and a look at the team’s roster, there is little indication that the free agent will be back with the club next year.
Despite offering a vertical threat that other Cowboys receivers don’t, Butler has never been able to grow his role in the offense. He has had just 12, 16, and 15 catches in each of the last three seasons.
Part of the problem has been the guys playing quarterback. In Butler’s first season in 2015, Tony Romo’s injury left the QB position in shambles. Even if Romo had played all year, he wasn’t the kind of deep ball passer that might’ve helped Brice to shine anyway.
The last two years of Dak Prescott at QB, and the more conservative designed to help him, have also left Butler looking for table scraps. He’s not going to get a lot of looks behind Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Cole Beasley, and Terrance Williams anyway, and especially not when the team is more focused on running the ball.
Of course, Butler has also missed on some of his opportunities with dropped balls. Sports is cruel to the bench guys; you get a few chances to shine and people remember when you don’t.
Last January on the “Undisputed” sports talk show, Brice Butler appeared and didn’t sound like a guy who planned to return to the Cowboys. He claimed that he could have been more productive than Dez Bryant with the same number of targets and even declared that he would not come back to Dallas if he wasn’t promised a starting job.
Some might see this as burning bridges, but that only matters if you actually want to go back. If anything, it seemed more like a 28-year-old free agent desperate to get his name in the headlines a few months before the market opens.
No, there’s little reason to think Butler is coming back. Even if he wanted to, the Cowboys have Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown filling out the depth chart as well as the potential to spend a high draft pick on a new receiver.
Even if Dez Bryant gets released, Butler has given the team no indication he could take on a significant role. And at 28 now, the speed that made him a different type of weapon is going to start slipping away.
Having made little over $2 million during his three years in Dallas, Brice Butler was hardly a bad pickup. He made some solid plays at times and scored three touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. But his age and performance leave little reason to think there’s some untapped potential.
Hopefully Butler finds a team willing to get him the opportunity he craves. Don’t expect it to be the Cowboys.