Before the 2014 NFL season, the San Diego Chargers were on the verge of losing Inside Linebacker Donald Butler to free agency. Butler appeared to be a rising star in the league, and so the Chargers agreed to sign him to a 7-year contract that made him one of the highest paid Linebackers in the league.
After that signing, it all fell apart for Butler. Whether it was due to physical limitations or a lack of motivation, Butler has had two terrible seasons since signing that contract. His poor performance in 2014 led to the team drafting Denzel Perryman in last year's draft, and Perryman took Butler's starting job about halfway through the season.
So, here's where we are now. Donald Butler is set to be the 5th highest paid ILB in the league in 2016. He'll be the 4th highest paid player on the San Diego Chargers, if they don't cut him before the season starts, and there's almost no chance he'll be a starter on defense without a major injury to Perryman or Manti Te'o.
Luckily, the Chargers' number-crunchers planned ahead. They didn't want to screw themselves, just in case Butler's career went downhill as fast as it actually did.
The date to keep in mind this offseason in June 1st. Before that date, the Chargers cutting Butler would lead to them having about $9 million less in cap space than if they were to just keep Butler on the roster.
After June 1st, cutting Donald Butler makes some financial sense. The Chargers would actually save $20,000 in cap space by getting rid of the disappointing Linebacker. That's probably not enough to prod the team to make the move alone, so Butler may be given a chance to impress at Mini Camp or OTAs before the team actually makes the cut.