Bucs Sign Bruce Carter
Bruce Carter inked a deal for $20 million over four years to replace Mason Foster as one of Tampa Bay’s starting linebackers. A second round pick in 2011, Carter joins LaVonte David and late bloomer Danny Lansanah. Early expectations are that Lansanah will man the middle with Carter playing the strong side.
It’s fair to call Carter a disappointment at this point in his career. Teams don’t let 27-year-old former second round picks go if they’re performing well. Carter has always displayed the athleticism and physical tools to play the position but injuries and inconsistent play plagued him during his four-year stint in Dallas.
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He did post 96 total tackles in 2013 and added 68 last season. However, he missed three games due to injury and laid a goose egg in the stat column in a fourth. And we all know that tackles, while perfect for fantasy football, aren’t the best metric for grading linebackers in the NFL. Carter graded out -11.2 overall last season, including -3.4 against the run and -10.2 in pass coverage. Not exactly what you want to see if you’re the Cowboys front office. So now he’s off to Tampa and a chance at greener pastures.
The Bucs are acquiring a player with versatility. Carter has played all three linebacker positions and has the physical traits to do so. He’s currently projected to start at strong side linebacker in Tampa’s 4-3 defense. The most important aspect for IDP fantasy football owners, though, is Carter’s role in the subpackages.
We’ve already seen that David, who plays the more productive weak side position, is a very good NFL and fantasy football player. He graded out overall at +10.1 a year ago and was a top 5 linebacker in fantasy leagues. He’s locked in.
Lansanah is the more interesting player. He entered the league in 2008 as an undrafted free agent but never saw much NFL action until last season. And what a season it was. He was used in all three linebacker positions and graded out overall at +6.1 with positive numbers in both the run and pass game, garnering praises from the coaching staff who raved about his versatility. If he does man the middle and win nickel duties next to David, watch out, he could be a nice late round IDP pick or waiver wire gem depending on format. Last season Lansanah posted very solid fantasy numbers the second half of the season mainly from a strong side role with subpackage duties.
On the flip side, Carter should get the opportunity to compete for subpackage snaps as well. The Bucs aren’t afraid to mix and match throughout the year, which can be maddening for IDP owners. If Tampa Bay doesn’t invest in a high pedigree rookie linebacker in the draft, make a note to watch both Carter and Lansanah to see how the competition shakes out. One could have solid IDP value this season with upside to boot.
Nate Hodges is a lead writer for PFF Fantasy and radio host in Knoxville, TN. He ranked #2 (draft) and #5 (season) out of all IDP experts in 2013. His work can also be found at TopTierFootball.com. You can follow him on Twitter – @NateNFL