Some say age is just a number, but in the NFL it can mean everything. After the very public, and ugly, contract negotiations between the organization and All-Pro receiver Wes Welker ended with Welker agreeing to sign his one year offer, the Pats now face a contract dispute with defensive end Andre Carter.
Carter racked up a team high 10 sacks last season, his only with New England, before tearing his quad in a Week 15 victory over the Denver Broncos. Given Carter’s age (he’s 33-years-old) and his injury, it leaves the Patriots with a tough decision.
The veteran defensive-end has said he wants to come back to New England, and has proved his allegiance by turning down offers from other teams. Carter became one of only four players to notch 10 sacks in a season during Bill Belichick’s tenure in New England. Not to mention Carter was a locker room leader and was well respected by both players and coaches.
With all that in mind, plus coming off a Pro Bowl season, it would make sense that Carter is thinking long-term deal. The Boston Herald has reported Carter is seeking a three- to four-year deal. The question comes down to three things: injury, age, and need.
The torn quad injury is tough for any player to come back from, but at 33 it’s even harder. Carter, has been undergoing intense rehab and been checking in with the Patriots medical staff throughout the offseason. While it’s still up in the air whether Carter will be ready for the start of the regular season, it’s rumored that he is ahead of schedule with his rehab.
Whether or not Carter is ready, there is still the matter of age. While Carter did have a stellar season at the age of 32, no player past that age has registered double digit sacks. That leaves the Patriots looking to sign him to a contract similar to last year’s deal, when he signed for one-year at $2.75 million.
But then there is need. One of the other four players to reach 10 sacks under Belichick was Mark Anderson, who after his only season in New England, left to sign with the Buffalo Bills. Having a veteran with knowledge of the system would help, it is not necessarily a need — as the Patriots drafted two defensive ends in Chandler Jones and Jake Bequette and signed two veteran defensive ends in Trevor Scott and Jonathan Fanene.
A respected leader and quick fan-favorite, the move to sign Andre Carter will be watched by many of the New England faithful, but just as it has been proven before (ask Lawyer Milloy and Willie McGinest) age is a big number in New England.
By Nathan Rickard