Dallas Cowboys

Why WR Brice Butler is back with the Cowboys, and why there are no hard feelings

Receiver Brice Butler, who signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals in March but was released after camp, is back with the Dallas Cowboys.
Receiver Brice Butler, who signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals in March but was released after camp, is back with the Dallas Cowboys. Special to the Star-Telegram

When receiver Brice Butler left the Dallas Cowboys in free agency to sign with the Arizona Cardinals in March, he was cast as a disgruntled former player with an ax to grind.

Butler complained about a lack of opportunities during his three years with the Cowboys on an interview on Fox Sports 1. He said he would have had more production than Dez Bryant if given more chances and the only way he would consider coming back would be if he was guaranteed a starting job.

The Cowboys wanted Butler to return but moved on after he got a better contract offer with the Cardinals.

But now, with the Cowboys seemingly desperate to add another dimension to their struggling passing game and Butler unemployed after being cut in training camp by the Cardinals, this seemingly odd couple is back together.

Butler, who officially re-signed with the Cowboys on Tuesday, is happy to be back and willing to do whatever it takes and accept any role that is offered to help the team win.

“I’m back, excited to be on the team,” Butler said. “Whatever I can do to help the team do well I will do whatever I can. No one has talked to me about playing time. I don’t know what my role is going to be. We didn’t speak about it.

“I am trying to leave my brain out of the equation. I went to another team thinking I was going to be all right. I didn’t make the team there. I am back here.”

For the record, Butler said he did reach out to Executive Vice President Stephen Jones, scouting director Will McClay and coach Jason Garrett after the television interview to clarify the statements that he says were taken out of context.

He has also spent a lot of time working with Bryant, who was cut by the Cowboys in April and remains unemployed.

He said it was Bryant who told him he should re-sign with the Cowboys. So the idea that there was bad blood between him and the Cowboys or him and Bryant was wrong.

“So all that stuff that I read from disgruntled Cowboys fans and how they felt I went out, all that wasn’t true,” Butler said. “They don’t know everything that went on. I spent a lot of time with Dez. And I keep in touch with him. Dez was the one who called me last week and told me I should come back here. I said ‘I would go back if they reach out’. A lot of people misinterpreted what was said. Obviously, I am here. And there wasn’t no ‘no much love lost.’ ”

Butler said the Cowboys initially called him the Monday after the 16-8 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the season opener when quarterback Dak Prescott passed for just 170 yards on 19 completions, including 13 for 135 yards to five receivers.

“Will McClay called and asked if I would be interested in coming back,” Butler said. “I said I am street. If you want me I will be back in a heartbeat. He called Tuesday and said it would be this week if I was still available. I had two team teams that scheduled me on visits. I called the Cowboys back, told them I would rather come here than go to those teams.”

Butler said he turned down opportunities with the Washington Redskins and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The familiarity is what drew Butler back to Dallas.

He said the playbook is the same and compared it to knowing the wants and don’t wants of reuniting with a former girlfriend.

The Cowboys have a new receivers coach in Sanjay Lal.

And there is a crowded receiver room, as Butler brings the number to seven on the roster, including Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, Deonte Thompson, Michael Gallup and Tavon Austin.

Numbers will be hard to come by.

But Butler has gone from disgruntled about not having enough opportunities to just happy to be here.

“I don’t know,” Butler said when asked about his role. “I had meetings with the guys last night. They never said what my role would be. I haven’t practiced. We will all figure that out.”

The Cowboys’ passing game was more efficient in last Sunday’s 20-13 victory against the New York Giants and included a 64-yard bomb to Austin on the third play of the game.

There remained a need to add Butler to the mix.

The Cowboys clearly have a role in mind for Butler, who at 6-foot-3 brings a size and speed factor that they hope will translate into more big plays down the field.

And while Butler had just 15 catches for the Cowboys last season, he set a career-high with 317 receiving yards. He also matched his career-high with three touchdowns.

He was second on the team with seven catches for 20 or more yards and two for 40 or more. Bryant had eight catches for 20 or more yards but on 44 more opportunities.

Butler also led the Cowboys in yards per catch in two of the last three seasons, including 21.5 and 21.2 in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

“We like Brice,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Brice has been with our team. He’s done some good things for us. ... Obviously, we’re trying to bring him on to help our football team. As receivers, typically those guys help in the passing game. He’s done good things for us. We wanted to keep him last year when he signed in Arizona. He decided to make that decision. But now he’s available.”

And back in Dallas.

Boise State was well represented in Sunday night's Cowboys-Giants matchup. Leighton Vander Esch, Tyrone Crawford and Demarcus Lawrence play for the Cowboys, with Donte Deayon playing for the Giants.

Clarence E. Hill Jr. :@clarencehilljr
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