Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler mentioned as possibility for Titans defensive coordinator position

Karl Walter

It's not rare Butler, the longstanding DC-In-Waiting of the Steelers, is mentioned in connection with a job opportunity elsewhere. It just isn't logical to think he'd leave now, considering the amount of offers he's declined in the past.

Some incontrovertible facts within the Steelers' organization: Ben Roethlisberger has the most passing yards in franchise history, Franco Harris could walk on water if he wanted to, and Keith Butler will be the team's next defensive coordinator.

Many coaches have tried to pry Butler away from the Steelers - who wisely came to some kind of understanding with him that he's the DC In Waiting some time ago. He hasn't left yet. He didn't jump on the opportunity to join Pete Carroll's staff in Seattle, or Bruce Arians' staff in Arizona. He didn't balk at Chuck Pagano's effort to bring him to Indianapolis.

Must be hard to be in such high demand. It must make it more difficult for the Steelers to retain him, even with the advancing age of current defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

The team has said repeatedly it will not show LeBeau the door. LeBeau will leave when he feels it's time, and it's said he comes to that decision after a few weeks following the season's conclusion.

Logically, it makes little sense for Butler to depart, this time, for newly hired Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt's staff. They have history together in the sense they coached on the same team back in the day. They've likely crossed paths at various points throughout the year. For all we know, the two are best of friends and recently went on a fishing trip in Alaska together.

None of that changes the fact Butler has had multiple opportunities to accept defensive cooridnator positions in the past, and he's stayed in Pittsburgh. We know know for certain if the Steelers keep giving him raises, and he's by far the highest paid position coach in the NFL or not, but something clearly has kept him in Pittsburgh all these years.

So why would he leave now?

We can deduce from our own experience as employees of various places, and likely people who left Job A for Job B at least once in our lives the likely reasons he would leave are salary, opportunity and familiarity. We may leave Job A simply because Job B pays a lot more, or perhaps gives us a better chance to advance our careers. Coaches salaries are not a part of the salary cap, so the Steelers could theoretically be paying Butler as much as LeBeau or the average defensive coordinator in the league. Maybe Butler just wants to stay in Pittsburgh because his family is happy and he enjoys doing what he's doing.

Either way, it would seem, logically, if he wanted to leave, he would have by now. The idea of him accepting any supposed offer (note: this is not reporting Whisenhunt has made him an offer) from the Tennessee Titans isn't impossible, but it seems more logical that if he wanted to leave, ergo, wasn't interested in sticking around to assume the role of defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he would have by now.

Unless Whisenhunt has incriminating evidence against Butler, or perhaps Whisenhunt saved his life and Butler owes him a favor, it doesn't seem likely he would accept any offer the Titans may or may not make.

For a coach who's shown a high level of success in player development over the year, though, it's nice to see he's attracting interest.

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