DE Kevin Carter has enjoyed success at each of his first three NFL stops, and he'll try to make it four in Tampa
Kevin Carter is 2.5 sacks shy of hitting 100 in his long and successful NFL career. Chances are, he'll move into triple-digit territory as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
The two-time Pro Bowl defensive linemen – to categorize him as an end or tackle would be to ignore how effortlessly he has shifted between the outside and the inside during his career – signed with the Buccaneers on Monday. The move bolsters a pass rush that was considered a major point of emphasis heading into this offseason and continues a very busy first week of free agency for Tampa Bay.
The NFL's free agency period began on Friday, March 2. Over the first four days of the open market, the Buccaneers have signed four free agents from other teams – Carter, quarterback Jeff Garcia, defensive end/linebacker Patrick Chukwurah and fullback B.J. Askew – signed two of their own unrestricted free agents – cornerbacks Phillip Buchanon and Torrie Cox – and traded for the rights to quarterback Jake Plummer.
A 6-6, 305-pound linemen who has always been considered a very complete player against both the run and the pass, Carter has been remarkably consistent over his 12 years in the NFL. Playing for the St. Louis Rams (1995-2000), Tennessee Titans (2001-04) and Miami Dolphins (2005-06), he has appeared in 192 consecutive games and had at least 5.5 sacks in 11 of his 12 seasons.
In all, Carter has 97.5 career sacks, including 5.5 and six over the past two seasons in Miami. He set a career high with 17 sacks in 1999, his first Pro Bowl season, and most recently hit double digits in 2002, his second Pro Bowl campaign. Carter's career statistics also include 533 tackles, 18 forced fumbles, 13 fumble recoveries and 22 passes defensed.
Carter has been one of the NFL's most durable players of the last decade. Like his new teammate, linebacker Derrick Brooks, he has played in every game since entering the league as a first-round draft pick in 1995 (Carter was sixth overall, Brooks 28th). Omitting kickers and punters, that 192-game streak shared by Brooks and Carter is the fourth-longest active one in the league, following those of Brett Favre (239), Will Shields (224) and Lorenzo Neal (208).
Amazingly, Brooks and Carter are also dead even in games started, as each of them has been in the opening lineup for 189 of those 192 games. Carter has started every game of every season except 2000, his last year in St. Louis. He has never had fewer than 34 tackles in a season and only in 2001 dipped below the 5.5-sack mark.
Along the way, Carter has played for four playoff teams and won a Super Bowl championship ring with the St. Louis Rams in 1999. In his eight postseason games, Carter has added 20 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles. In the Rams' Super Bowl XXXIV win over Tennessee, he got to Titans quarterback Steve McNair for his third sack of that playoff run.
After six years and 62.5 sacks in St. Louis, Carter was traded to those Titans for a first-round draft pick following the 2000 season. He played four seasons in Tennessee, averaging 73 tackles per season and hitting a sack high of 10.0 in 2002, as the Titans came up one game short of the Super Bowl. Carter was released by Tennessee shortly before the start of free agency in 2005 and quickly signed by the Dolphins. He went on to start 32 straight games at left defensive end for Miami, contributing 11.5 sacks and 97 tackles.
Though his reputation in coming to the Titans in 2001 was built on his edge rushing and high sack totals, he broadened his career while in Tennessee by playing extensively at defensive tackle. Easily big enough to handle the rigors of the interior game, he gave the Titans' defensive line very useful versatility. In 2004, for instance, Carter started nine games at defensive tackle and seven at defensive end, finishing with a career-high 82 tackles to go with six sacks.
Carter has 14 multi-sack games on his resume, including four in which he recorded three takedowns of the quarterback. Carter's 97.5 sacks rank fourth among active NFL players, though only second on the Buccaneers' roster. Fellow defensive end Simeon Rice is second on that list with 121 sacks.
In four seasons at Florida, Carter played in 47 games and started 37, finishing his collegiate career with 203 tackles and 21.5 sacks. After an 11.5-sack campaign in 1994, he was a consensus first-team All-America choice. The 33-year-old Carter was born in Miami and played his high school ball in Tallahassee.