When former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt took the Tennessee Titans head coaching job earlier this week, there were reports that Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler was Whisenhunt’s first choice to run the Titans’ defense in 2014.
Now that a couple days have passed, that no longer seems to be the case.
According to longtime ESPN NFL reporter Chris Mortensen, Whisenhunt will bring Cleveland defensive coordinator Ray Horton to Nashville to perform the same job he had under Whisenhunt when the latter was Arizona’s bench boss.
As Matt Shetler indicated in our earlier report, the Steelers have the right to block any coach still under contract from bolting to another team, assuming the coach’s desired position isn’t a head job. Butler is still under contract for another season in Pittsburgh.
Butler has been repeatedly mentioned as the successor to Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, although the 76-year-old Pro Football Hall of Famer hasn’t indicated he plans to retire anytime soon. It’s been reported the Steelers have a “handshake” agreement with Butler that he will ascend as soon as LeBeau calls it a career.
Butler, 57, has been coaching Steelers linebackers since 2003; he held the same job in Cleveland previously. An All-American inside linebacker at the University of Memphis in the mid 1970s, Butler went on to a 10-year pro career with Seattle. He finished with 813 tackles, which still ranks second on the Seahawks’ all-time list.
Coincidentally, Horton is also a former Pittsburgh position coach. He worked with the Steelers defensive backs from 2004 to 2007, crossing paths with Whisenhunt under the Bill Cowher regime. Horton was considered for Arizona’s vacant head coaching job last offseason, only to be passed over for – stop me if you’ve heard this before – another old Steeler in Bruce Arians.
Instead of working under Arians, Horton made a lateral move to the Browns, a shuffle he’s apparently about to execute again.