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Steelers defensive coordinator search: Longtime linebackers coach Keith Butler thought to be next in line

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Butler has about as much experience within the Steelers defense as anyone, except his former boss. But should be the team's next defensive coordinator?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Butler served four years as the linebackers coach of the Cleveland Browns from 1999-02. That's a fairly long time for an assistant coach in terms of tenure in the NFL.

He would spend three times that, the next 12 seasons, with the Pittsburgh Steelers, serving in the same capacity. And now, with the departure of defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, he's thought to be the first Steelers' defensive coordinator since Butler's first year, when Tim Lewis was in charge.

LeBeau took over in 2004, and has served in the position ever since. And Butler has been recognized as his protoge for most of that time as well.

Multiple reports have linked Butler as a candidate to multiple defensive coordinator positions in the past, most recently, with the Indianapolis Colts when Chuck Pagano took over in 2012. He declined to be interviewed, and because of that, speculation raced that Butler was simply biding his time until LeBeau would eventually retire.

LeBeau is out now, will Butler be handed the position?

It's tough to say, with a defense that has gone on a bit of a slide the last two seasons in a few different ways, Butler should be just given the job, but at the same time, it would seem odd if the team would have let him remain with the team if they were not interested in his long-term services.

Butler has coached several outstanding linebackers, including Joey Porter, James Farrior and James Harrison, who was the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. Porter was an 2000s All-Decade player and Farrior went to multiple Pro Bowls in his time in the league. He also oversaw the maturation of Lawrence Timmons, a Pro Bowl player in 2014, and is currently underseeing the development of the team's last two first round picks, Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones.