When Duron Carter was making his decision as a free agent, the Cleveland Browns Organization was in the mix. Carter met with GM Ray Farmer and was reportedly deciding between the Browns, Minnesota Vikings and the team he chose, the Indianapolis Colts. The fit with the Colts was always an intriguing one for me, as I wrote at my last Browns gig:
The biggest reason Carter may regret going to the Colts is opportunity. With the Colts already having T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen there aren’t a ton of targets likely thrown his way.
As it turns out, targets were not the concern but making the roster was. Since that article, the Colts signed Andre Johnson and drafted Phillip Dorsett. Even 4th year man Griff Whalen, who plays a different role, made the team after being a Colts practice squad member mostly since entering the league in 2012.
Carter was squeezed out by the numbers game, not because of lack of talent. The former Ohio State Buckeye and CFL star had a good preseason with 9 catches and 126 yards. He showed that the time in Canada really helped his route running and football IQ. He still has some development to make at the NFL level but his talent is obvious when watching him play.
The 6'5", 205 pound receiver has long strides and good acceleration. He was the top WR in the CFL last year and showed off his talents there. He showed well in the last two preseason games for the Colts. He had 3 catches and 25 yards in Game 3 and 5 catches and 85 yards in Game 4.
Based on the number of teams that had interest in him as a free agent, his showing in preseason and his overall skill, we expect many teams to put a claim in on Carter.
The Browns should be one of those teams.
Carter is still a young player, 24 years old, and has shown he can play the position. He would give the Browns a size/speed combination that they do not have outside of Terrelle Pryor. Yet Carter has played the position all of his life, has proven he can produce at a pretty high level and still has upside. The Browns interest and workout with him, as well as reported attempts to sign him, give hope that they will indeed claim him.
Since Carter signed with the Colts, the Browns made moves to shore up their receiver corps, which is much better than most pundits think. Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline were brought in as free agents, while later Pryor was added to the pile. Travis Benjamin has shown well in preseason, while Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel are solid parts of the teams present and future.
That leaves Marlon Moore. Moore provides something on special teams that the Browns truly value. He is a great gunner and can be a returner as well. With Johnson Bademosi also making the team, as well as a plethora of other young guys who can play on special teams, Moore just isn't worth keeping around over a talent like Carter.
However, HC Mike Pettine has made it clear that Moore is valuable. 4th Round pick Vince Mayle was cut in favor of Moore, as was fan and teammate favorite Josh Lenz. If the Browns decide to keep Moore, claiming Carter in place of Pryor makes some sense as well. Both are young, big with upside but Carter has played the position for years while Pryor hasn't.
Pettine talked about the Browns possibly keeping 8 receivers but that doesn't seem likely at this point, though cutting one of the four tight ends, Rob Housler being the prime candidate, makes sense. Only Pryor and Moore seem like possible bubble players at the WR position at this point.
If the Browns keep both Carter and Pryor, they double up on their bet for the future. If one of the two are able to break through as starter level, the Browns will have their big, fast outside guy. If both do, fans may just stop complaining about the WR position. While we are dreaming, if they both do and Josh Gordon returns with his head on straight and dominates again, WOW!
Duron Carter is likely to be claimed today, hopefully the Browns are the team doing the claiming. If you want some CFL highlights, here you go then join the conversation in our forum below: