As the NFL's 2015 free agency continues full speed into its second day, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made their first addition of the new league year: linebacker Bruce Carter.
Carter and the Buccaneers agreed to a four-year contract that was announced late Wednesday afternoon. A second-round pick (#40 overall) in 2011, Carter spent his first four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys before becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first time on Tuesday.
Tampa Bay needed linebacker depth with two of last year's players at the position hitting free agency on Tuesday, including starting middle linebacker Mason Foster and reserve Dane Fletcher. They found a versatile and productive player in Carter, and one who is familiar with their style of defense.
Carter spent the last two seasons playing in Dallas defenses coordinated by Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli, former Tampa Bay assistants. Kiffin and Marinelli, who were part of the same Buccaneers staff in the 1990s along with current Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith, installed a 4-3 defense similar to the one run by Tampa Bay. Carter primarily played weakside linebacker in 2013 and strongside linebacker in 2014, but he also played inside for the Cowboys in 2012, starting 11 games. He is considered strong against the run and has very good speed, so he could be a good fit for the Buccaneers at their recently-vacated middle linebacker spot, or perhaps on the strong side.
Photos of new Tampa Bay Buccaneer LB Bruce Carter from his time with the Dallas Cowboys. (AP Photos)
In his four seasons in Dallas Carter played in 49 games and made 32 starts. He racked up 186 tackles, three sacks, five interceptions and 11 passes defensed in that time, with all five of his picks coming in 13 games last season. That interception total tied for third in the NFL, just two of the lead, and were the most by any linebacker in the NFL.
Carter's draft stock was hurt in 2011 by a knee injury that required surgery in December of 2010 and kept him from performing at the NFL Scouting Combine. He started for three seasons at North Carolina and amassed 190 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 22 tackles for loss and three interceptions. Carter also blocked six kicks for the Tar Heels, another sign of the athleticism he packs into his 6-2, 240-pound frame.
Carter is one of four free agents the Buccaneers entertained at team headquarters on Wednesday along with safety Chris Conte, defensive tackle Henry Melton and center Stefen Wisniewski.