While it has been widely believed that free agent defensive end Andre Carter would return to the Patriots for quite some time, that may not necessarily be the case. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald recently detailed the complicated nature of the team's negotiations with Carter, which could result in Carter looking to sign with other teams.
Howe reports that Carter has wanted to return to the Patriots so badly that he's turned down interest from other potential suitors. However, there are a couple of factors holding back Carter and the Patriots from making a deal:
But Carter's season ended in Week 15 when he tore his quad while trying to chase down Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. It's a tough injury for anyone, especially if they're on the wrong side of 30, so it's been a time-intensive rehabilitation process for Carter, who has checked in regularly with the Patriots' medical staff and is ahead of schedule, according to a source.
The belief on Carter's end is he can be on the field in time for the start of the regular season. The team, though, might have other ideas, and that's where there is one key holdup.
The other is the money because, more often than not, these things come down to the money. Last summer, Carter signed a one-year deal worth $2.75 million, and after his Pro Bowl nod, he's looking for a three- or four-year contract more typical of a Pro Bowl salary.
The Patriots, however, are seemingly more interested in paying Carter a salary similar to last year's. From their perspective, they're worried about his durability after the injury. They also drafted defensive ends Chandler Jones (first round) and Jake Bequette (second round) and signed free agents Jonathan Fanene and Trevor Scott, both of whom can play on the edge.
Howe also added that the Patriots think that Carter may need to begin the year on the PUP. Either way, this is concerning news for Patriots fans. It's my belief that Carter is the difference in whether or not the team's defense will be "championship ready" in 2012. Outside of Carter, the Patriots have very few experienced pass rush pieces. It's also been my belief that the Patriots could withstand the loss of Mark Anderson in free agency to the Bills - but only if Carter were to return.
That being said, if Carter is really seeking a three to four year deal at Pro Bowl level money, I can see why a deal has yet to get done. Considering his current health situation and his age, I think that Carter would be hard pressed to find a multi-year contract that pays him more than the $2.75 million he made in 2011.
Hopefully, this situation can get solved sooner rather than later.