Bucs Welcome Back Carter

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DE Kevin Carter started 14 games for the Buccaneers last season, most of them at left end

Kevin Carter will return for a 14th NFL season, and it will be in Tampa.

Carter, who started 14 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007 but was released on the eve of free agency three weeks ago, re-signed with the Buccaneers on Tuesday. As is team policy, terms of the new contract were not disclosed.

Carter, the highly accomplished defensive linemen who spent his first 12 seasons in St. Louis, Tennessee and Miami, posted the 100th sack of his career as a Buccaneer last fall. Overall, his robust NFL stat line includes 770 tackles, 100.5 sacks, 18 forced fumbles, 12 fumble recoveries and 23 passes defensed. Last year, he spent the majority of the season as the Bucs' starting left end and posted 73 stops and three sacks.

The 6-6, 305-pound Carter also brings three other much-appreciated qualities to the Buccaneers' roster: durability, versatility and leadership.

Simply put, Carter is one of the most durable and dependable players the NFL has ever seen, particularly given that he has played his whole career in the trenches. In 13 NFL seasons, Carter has never missed a game for any reason, including injuries. He has appeared in all 208 possible games since the Rams made him the sixth overall pick in the 1995 draft, and has also played in nine postseason contests. Amazingly, Carter's move to Tampa made him teammates with another player from the first round of the 1995 draft who has also played in all 208 games over the last 13 years – linebacker Derrick Brooks.

Carter has extensive starting experience at both end and tackle (he has started 212 of those 217 games played, including the postseason) and now fills a dual role that increases the Buccaneers' roster flexibility on game day. Last season, Carter saw frequent action at both end spots during first and second down and often slid inside to under tackle during passing downs. With the addition of players such as Marques Douglas and Jimmy Wilkerson, the Buccaneers are clearly putting an emphasis on versatility with this year's defensive line, and Carter will continue to help in that regard.

Though it was his first year in Tampa, Carter also emerged as a locker-room leader in 2007. The Buccaneers have engineered something of a youth movement on their roster with three straight successful drafts, but the team also features a handful of very experienced veterans, such as Carter, Brooks, Ronde Barber and Jeff Garcia. The always-positive Carter can be a steadying influence and strong source of knowledge for such young linemen as Gaines Adams, Jovan Haye and Greg White.

A skilled pass-rusher who is also stout against the run, Carter has had at least 5.5 sacks in 11 of his 13 seasons. He played six seasons in St. Louis, starting 93 of a possible 96 games, and had 62.5 sacks during that span. A 17-sack season in 1999 earned Carter his first Pro Bowl berth and was part of a three-year span in which he had 39.5 quarterback takedowns.

Carter played for a pair of playoff teams in St. Louis, including the 1999 team that capture the Super Bowl XXXIV title with a win over Tennessee. During that three-game run to the championship, Carter recorded three sacks, including one in the final contest.

Coincidentally, 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 another Super Bowl appearance. 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.

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 34-year-old Carter was born in Miami and played his high school ball in Tallahassee.

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