The New England Patriots didn’t know what they were getting when they signed undrafted rookie Adam Butler to his initial contract. They handed him $20,000 guaranteed at signing, tied for the 13th most for a Patriots undrafted rookie since 2012, and hoped for the best.
The 6’4 product of Vanderbilt played all along the defensive line in college after being recruited as an offensive lineman. According to NESN.com, Butler was 320 pounds as an offensive lineman and then weighed 293 pounds on his Pro Day. “When Butler came to the Patriots, he weighed 305 pounds,” NESN’s Doug Kyed writes.
“Fast-forward four months and Butler now weighs 280 pounds.”
“It was probably a combination of stress and hard work through OTAs,” Butler told NESN about his changing weight.
Kyed reports that the Patriots wanted “to drop Butler’s body fat” and it’s been cut from 26% to 19.6%. Belichick now thinks Butler is in position “to see him add on some quality weight” with muscle instead of pizza.
Butler’s seen a huge fluctuation in weight, but it shows what the Patriots have in mind for his role in the defense. Butler is now exactly in the weight range of the Dominique Easleys and Anthony Johnsons of the world, which is what Bill Belichick has been looking for on defense for years.
Easley and Johnson served as the third down defensive tackle- with Johnson making a Butler-esque drop from 320 pounds to 280 pounds with the Patriots- generating pressure while flanked by two edge defenders and only rushing three. When healthy, Easley and Johnson played between 25% and 50% of the defensive snaps, depending on how much the opposing team was throwing the football and playing more in blowouts than close games.
Butler’s role seems to be as a base defensive end in both the 4-3 and 3-4 fronts, joining Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise on the depth chart, and the trio will likely all be on the field together in third-and-long situations.
After both Easley and Johnson were unable to become long term fixtures in the Patriots defense, it will be interesting to see if Butler can stick around.