Jul 29, 2013; Napa, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Andre Carter (97) at training camp at the Napa Valley Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots defense is decimated by injuries, and I don’t think it was a major surprise that they made a move to help this unit’s depth. I did find it surprising that they decided to go out and sign defensive end Andre Carter. If you remember, Carter had a solid 2011 season in New England, as he racked up 10 sacks in 14 games, before a knee injury forced him to miss the remainder of the regular season.
The 13 year veteran spent last season in Oakland, where once again he missed time (four games), and managed to come up with only 2.5 sacks. However it was clear that he was still not 100% after his knee injury, which definitely contributed to his mediocre production.
Now that he is healthy, I think he can possibly carve out a niche in the Patriot defense as a third down rusher, but honestly, I do not see huge benefits in signing this man. Not only do the Patriots have two extremely talented defensive ends already in the fold, but they also have decent depth behind them. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich have both had tremendous 2013 campaigns, as they have combined for 73 tackles and 7.5 sacks (6.5 of them from Jones). They both are two of the best overall edge players in the league, and as of right now, have held up just fine on their own as the Pats two main edge players. Behind them, they roll out Michael Buchanan, who despite being a bit raw, has some potential as a pass rusher, and if he is developed correctly, he could possibly be a solid contributor on the outside. The Patriots main intentions with this signing probably include moving Chandler Jones to defensive tackle, then inserting Carter on the edge. This is a fine strategy, as Jones has proved that he can produce from the middle, but the Patriots could have used this money in a much more injury-savaged area.
Right now, the defensive tackle position is a gaping hole in the New England defense. Vince Wilfork is gone for the season, and Tommy Kelly has yet to return from a knee injury he suffered in Cincinnati. This leaves the Pats with two rookies, Joe Vellano and Chris Jones, in the middle, and while they have improved in the last few weeks, they present a big area for opponents to exploit. If the Patriots were going to go out and make a move, I would much rather have seen them sign some quality depth to go behind these two. I am terrified at the thought of a team like the Chiefs coming into Foxboro, and absolutely manhandling the middle of the Patriots defense. Some decent depth at the position might keep their top two guys fresh, which could result in better production from the rookies. Of course, Armon Armstead might be able to help this situation when he returns, but we have had no indication as to when he will be able to return to the football field, leaving the Pats with Vellano, Jones, and Marcus Forston at defensive tackle.