Dale Carter Gets Another Chance

The Vikings have long coveted cornerback Dale Carter and now, with him carrying more baggage than before, the team gets its chance to use his talents.

The Vikings first tried to land veteran Pro Bowl cornerback Dale Carter in 1996, when they signed him to an offer sheet, but Kansas City matched the bid and retained his rights. The Broncos signed him to a four-year, $22.8 million contract prior to the 1999 season, including a $7.8 million signing bonus. But Carter was suspended under the league's substance abuse policy for all of last season and not reinstated until early last week.

Carter, who will be 32 on Nov. 28, had been staying with his brother, wide receiver Jake Reed, in the Twin Cities the past seven weeks or so. He'd been working out twice a day and had worked out in Boca Raton, Fla., at Cris Carter's speed and conditioning camp earlier this summer. Like Reed, Cris Carter and strong safety Robert Griffith, Dale Carter is represented by agent Mitch Frankel.

As a result, Carter reportedly arrived at Winter Park within minutes of clearing waivers after being released by the Broncos. He agreed to contract terms with the Vikings within hours.

Carter will receive close to the prorated version of the veteran's minimum salary of $477,000, plus a small incentive-based bonus.

"He's a very good player," head coach Dennis Green said. "I think obviously we never talked about it because at the time he belonged to the Denver Broncos and we don't believe in tampering with players. I think that we've had an opportunity here, I think, and it presented itself. There's no telling when he was going to be reinstated back into the league. The timing worked out for us and I think it will work out for Dale also.

"We're looking to be better. There will be a role for everybody. Everybody that can play the game and play it well, they don't have to worry about going to the bench. They'll have a spot for them to play. But this week we're looking to improve. Whether it is Kenny (Wright), or Eric (Kelly), or Robert Tate, all of those guys will find a way to help us win. We respect them a lot as players and they should be able to help us win."

It's also another reclamation project for Green. "I think that's the American way. I really do. I think I've always felt that way. I always try to do that," Green said. "This is an opportunity for Dale to get back in the groove and show that he should be in the National Football League, that he can play in the game, that he can abide by the rules that the National Football League has set forth, which means we all have to abide by those same rules. I think it's a great chance for him to prove that."

Carter is in his ninth season and has played in 118 career games with 102 starts. He played seven seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs (1992-98) and one season with the Denver Broncos in 1999.

Carter has 546 career tackles and 23 interceptions in his eight-year career. He was selected to four straight Pro Bowls during his time with the Chiefs (1994-97). He was named the Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1992 when he posted 55 tackles and seven interceptions. He was selected in the first round (20th overall) by the Chiefs out of Tennessee.

To make room for Carter, the Vikings placed rookie linebacker Fearon Wright (shoulder) on injured reserve. "(He has) a very severe deltoid injury," Green said. "It's a lot worse really than Robert Tate's. We're hoping obviously that it will not require surgery. Fearon did an excellent job for us on special teams. He's a good, rugged player for us."

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