Cowboys trade for Raiders WR Brice Butler

The Dallas Cowboys brought in several free agent wide receivers to take a look at on Tuesday, but in the end they decided to go a different route. Early Tuesday evening, they acquired wide receiver Brice Butler from the Oakland Raiders for a conditional 2016 NFL Draft pick.

According to Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram, the Cowboys will swap their fifth-round pick for the Raiders’ sixth in 2016 if Butler is on the 2015 53-man roster for at least six games.

The Raiders selected Butler with the No. 209 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. Butler started his collegiate career at USC in promising fashion by compiling 292 yards receiving on 20 catches as a true freshman. After two forgettable seasons at USC, he transferred to San Diego State where he finished with 347 yards receiving and four touchdowns on 24 catches during the 2012 season.

At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds with blazing 4.36 40-yard dash speed and a 39-inch vertical jump — at his pro day — it has always been about athletic upside and potential with Butler. Although he never earned a consistent role with the Raiders, in part due to injuries, he flashed potential in small stretches. Over a three game span last season from Weeks 4-6, he racked up 149 yards receiving and a touchdown on six receptions.

If you want to get an idea of what someone with that kind of athletic upside is capable of, take a look at this play Butler made during a practice session while he was with the Raiders.

Butler can’t be counted on to make an immediate impact in the passing game. Minus Dez Bryant, the Cowboys have a stable group of receivers atop their depth chart that includes Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Devin Street.

Having said that, it wouldn’t be unprecedented to see Butler emerge as more than just a reserve. Williams has struggled with consistency, Street remains unproven and Beasley fits best in the slot. Wide receivers that have emerged out of nowhere for the Cowboys in the past to make an impact in the passing game include Laurent Robinson and Miles Austin. 

If Butler can’t leapfrog Street or Williams, he will still have an excellent opportunity to surface as the No. 4 option at wide receiver during Bryant’s absence, but that role is unlikely to see many offensive snaps. The Cowboys are expected to use a larger array of 12 personnel packages — featuring second tight end Gavin Escobar or James Hanna in addition to Jason Witten.

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(h/t Charean Williams on Twitter)