A 2006 third-round draft pick out of Miami by the Carolina Panthers, Butler joined the Texans in 2007 and had started four of 42 games over the last five seasons. The 29-year-old is coming off an elbow injury that ended his 2011 season last September and is due $1.3 million in base salary in 2012, the final year of his contract.
Butler's injury is a significant blow to the Texans' depth at the position. While Newton beat out Butler for the starting job formerly occupied by Eric Winston, he lacks experience, playing largely on special teams during his 14 games as a rookie. According to official playing-time documents, 17 of Newton's 82 total snaps last season were on offense. Reserve tackle Andrew Gardner is the most experienced player behind left tackle Duane Brown and Newton. Gardner played in one game for the 2009 Miami Dolphins and came off the bench to play 33 snaps for the Texans in last season's regular-season finale.
During this weekend's trade and waiver-wire frenzy, it wouldn't be a surprise if Texans general manager Rick Smith looks to add a veteran tackle. One option could be Alex Barron, an experienced veteran who can play left and right tackle. Barron also spent the first few weeks of this year's training camp with the Seattle Seahawks, who, like the Texans, are a zone-blocking team.