The Bears could be interested in bringing back an old friend as the team has reportedly met with WR DeAndre Carter. The soon-to-be 29-year-old played for Chicago in 2020, returning four punts for 30 yards.
Heinicke to DeAndre Carter!#WashingtonFootball leads 13-0.
— NFL (@NFL) November 14, 2021
Carter spent the past season with Washington and enjoyed a career year working as a return man and part-time starter. He finished the season with 24 receptions for 296 yards and three scores, along with 10 rushes for 89 yards. He also returned a kick for a 101-yard touchdown against the Falcons, averaging 25.11 yards on kickoffs, the third-best in the NFL.
Since signing as an undrafted free agent with the Ravens in 2015, Carter has played for or has been invited to camp with the Raiders, Patriots, 49ers, Eagles, Texans, Bears, and Commanders. He’s certainly not going to scare any defenses as a wide receiver, and his primary role in Chicago, if he signs, would likely be on special teams.
The Bears have already agreed to terms with wide receivers Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown in free agency, retooling their receiving corps following the departure of Allen Robinson. They’ll most likely draft a receiver with one of their two second-round picks in this year’s draft. Carter would be a depth and specialty piece who would help returning kicks, much like Jakeem Grant Sr. did last season.
While high-profile stars such as Tyrann Mathieu, Odell Beckham Jr., Stephon Gilmore, Julio Jones, and Jadeveon Clowney remain unsigned, GM Ryan Poles has avoided premium stars, even with a little more than $17 million in cap space available. Therefore, it follows that the first-year GM would pursue the relatively unproven Carter instead of the likes of Beckham Jr., Jones, or Clowney.
Mathieu and Gilmore make the most sense for the Bears given their current scarcity of defensive backs, but Chicago’s new GM continues to seek additions that are low-risk types willing to agree to short-term deals. It’s doubtful the Bears or any other team would give Carter a deal that exceeds one year.
Chicago is, in fact, not the only team interested in the former UDFA. The Chargers are bringing him in Tuesday, with Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com indicating (via Twitter) that a meeting is scheduled. Washington is also said to be interested in bringing Carter back. He earned $920,000 with the Commanders in 2021.
Brandon Staley said yesterday the Chargers will be addressing the returner spot “here shortly” and according to @BenStandig they are interested in former Washington return specialist DeAndre Carter.
— Guilty As Charged Podcast (@GACPodcast17) March 30, 2022
As an undersized wide receiver, Carter often compares himself to former Panthers and Ravens star Steve Smith, though any comparisons should end with their similar body builds. Talent aside, Carter professes to carry himself on the field much like Smith, an attitude that has been a common denominator among all of Chicago’s free-agent signings this spring.
“He walks around with a chip on his shoulder,” Carter said of Smith, who has been to five Pro Bowls. “And he makes sure [defenses] are not going to push him around. And if you try to, he’s going to let you know about it. I get a little fire in myself from time to time in a game when someone tries to bully me a little bit. I make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Speedy but undersized wideouts often make it to the NFL because their college programs used spread offenses that featured a lot of play-action, timing routes, sweeps, short passes, and other gimmicky plays. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy will likely incorporate a lot of that into the offense he intends to deploy to take advantage of the strengths of second-year quarterback Justin Fields.
Carter hails from San Jose and attended Sacramento State, where he appeared in 41 games (2011-14), finishing with 207 receptions for 2,760 yards and 35 touchdowns. As a senior in 2014, he set a single-season school record with 99 receptions for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns while earning Associated Press FCS First-Team All-American honors.
Here’s the scouting report from NFL.com on the diminutive receiver:
“Explosive short-area quickness and can free himself from most one-on-one coverage. Needs to prove he can offer special-teams return potential to maximize his opportunity. Despite his lack of height, his quickness off the snap and out of his breaks will be hard to overlook for teams looking for a possession receiver from the slot. Made a promise to his dying 17-year-old brother that he would make it in the NFL.”