Brice Butler made it clear that he doesn’t want to return to the Dallas Cowboys unless he’s in line for a starting job. In other words, expect Butler to be playing elsewhere in 2018.
Butler, a free agent, made the statement during an appearance on Fox Sports 1 on Thursday.
“With Dallas, the situation has to be right for me to go back,” Butler said. “I have to be a starter. If I’m not starting, I’m not going back.”
Butler made other pointed statements that likely won’t sit well with those within the organization, and sounded like a player who is ready to move on. Butler clearly felt he should have been more productive than he was in 2017.
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Butler had just 15 catches for the Cowboys, but set a career-high with 317 receiving yards. He also matched his career-high with three touchdowns.
“I feel good about it,” Butler said of his season. “Could have been better. It was a career-high in yards, but it was really just because all my catches were down-the-field throws. As a receiver that is a route-runner, I feel like I could do more things in the offense, but my role was to be the deep-threat guy, the down-the-field guy. So I just had to embrace what they gave me as a role and I had to do what I had to do.”
Butler never got a starting nod, and finished the season by playing in 13 games. He missed three games with a foot injury.
Asked why he didn’t see more playing time, Butler pointed to Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams being on longer term deals worth more money. Butler re-signed with the Cowboys last off-season on a one-year, $1.1 million deal.
“I think in this league, when you think about the business aspect, you’ve got to follow the money trail,” Butler said. “Both of our starters made money. Terrance just got paid last year. So there were times where I was like, ‘I’m making plays, aren’t we trying to win games? Why am I not on the field?’ But that’s the only thing that I can really think of.”
Butler said he could have been more productive than Bryant if given his opportunities.
“One hundred percent. Because I’m ready,” Butler said. “It’s my time. I’ve been there for three years. I feel like me and [quarterback Dak Prescott] have a really good relationship. We work on routes. There’s times that we might not have completed a square-out throw in practice, and we’re taking that time out in practice to actually work on it. So I think that’s why when you saw us in the game, he tried to come to me, and most of the times we produced.”
That’s why Butler is confident the free-agent market will be better for him this off-season. Even though his numbers don’t jump off the page, Butler isn’t lacking confidence.
“I’m definitely going to play the market,” Butler said. “I wouldn’t mind being back in Dallas, but there’s going to have to be some changes made, and I’ll definitely voice that with the team and the organization.
“If I get 150 targets, I’m going to catch 100-plus balls.”