Measurables: 5-foot-9, 185 pounds.
2014 stats: five combined tackles, one fumble recovery, one pass defensed.
Tony Carter went undrafted out of Florida State back in 2009. He was signed by former Denver Broncos megalomaniacal head-man Josh McDaniels, but was waived when the team made their final roster cuts to begin the season.
Carter was then signed to the practice squad, where he bided his time. He was eventually called up to the active roster in Week 15 and even made his first career start as an UDFA in Week 16. Carter stuck around Denver throughout the offseason but was waived towards the end of the preseason, after he suffered an injury to his hamstring.
The ever incestuous relationship between Bill Belichick and his acolytes resulted in the New England Patriots signing him to their practice squad just a few weeks later, where he nursed his hamstring back to health. He was promoted to the active roster late in the season.
Rolling with the punches as another camp casualty the next summer, Carter endured the career rollercoaster most of the NFL’s undrafted players must. But he found his way back to the Broncos in 2012, where he has remained until today.
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Since rejoining the Broncos, he’s had his ups and downs. In 2012, he was a major contributor to the nickel defense, where he earned the nickname “Sticky Man”. Carter proved that he has an opportunistic knack for being around the ball, recording two interceptions and a fumble recovery in 2012, two of which he returned for scores. However, just two seasons later (2014), he saw only 87 snaps on defense.
Carter’s inactivity on gameday sparked the interest of several cornerback needy teams in the middle of last season, but no trade was ever consummated. The Broncos tendered him as a restricted free agent in March.
The moniker “Sticky Man” is a well-earned one. Carter is a gambler by nature. He takes chances—sometimes to the detriment of his team. But there have been times those chances have paid off in spades for the Broncos, which is why he’s been able to hang around, despite the team spending a lot of money on the cornerback position in free agency and cultivating talent via the NFL Draft.
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However, Carter has been living off his perception (within the organization) as a playmaker, earned from his 2012 season. Most of that esteem was given to him by the previous coaching administration—John Fox and Del Rio. With a new coaching staff in place, Carter is back at square one and staring down a draft class that featured two cornerback selections.
The Broncos roster is replete with young cornerback talent and consequently, this could be the year that many fans have pined for—one that could see Carter fail to make the final 53-man roster. The burner with the 4.43-40 speed will have to have the best training camp of his career to secure a spot.
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We probably shouldn’t count Carter out yet. He’s earned a PhD from the NFL’s School of Hard Knocks and that savvy will go a long way towards impressing his new coaches, provided he backs it up with consistent play.
If Tony Carter does find himself on the outside looking in, he won’t be without a job for long. Jack Del Rio would take him in Oakland in a heartbeat and John Fox likely wouldn’t be opposed to adding him for veteran depth in Chicago. The Broncos would save $1.542M (with no dead money) by cutting him before the season begins.