Continuing their typically aggressive approach in the opening days of free agency, the Washington Redskins on Monday evening reached a contract agreement with unrestricted defensive end Andre Carter, a five-year veteran they hope will provide the outside pass rush the have been lacking.
Carter flew to Washington on Monday night and will sign a six-year contract that is believed to be worth about $30 million.
The former University of California star, who had played all of his career with the San Francisco 49ers, visited with Redskins officials over the weekend, but departed to consider his options. Denver which also needs an outside pass rusher, also was pursuing him.
Washington officials also met over the weekend with New York Jets defensive end John Abraham, who was designated a franchise player, but is on the trading block. The Jets are expected to demand a trade package involving a first-round draft pick, and Washington does not own a selection in the opening stanza of the lottery. Clearly, the Redskins decided it was easier to sign Carter rather than chase Abraham, who is set to meet with three other teams this week.
The Redskins, who statistically ranked No. 9 in total defense in 2005, had already added former St. Louis strong safety Adam Archuleta to their secondary.
Securing an explosive upfield rusher like Carter should further enhance an already strong defense, one that over the last two years has been forced to manufacture sack opportunities through the clever maneuvering of creative coordinator Gregg Williams. In Carter, who ranked No. 20 among ESPN.com's top unrestricted free agents, the Redskins gain a rusher who at least has the potential to net double-digit sacks.
The Redskins had 35 sacks in 2005 but only one lineman, end Phillip Daniels, had more than four. And the veteran Daniels collected five of his eight sacks in the final two games of the campaign.
Carter, 26, was the seventh overall choice in the 2001 draft and posted a career-high 12 ½ sacks in 2002. Since then, however, he has never had more than 6½ sacks in a season. And Carter, the son of former NFL player and assistant coach Rubin Carter, has only twice played in all 16 games in a season. Carter has been a starter at end in a 4-3 front, which the Redskins use, and at linebacker in a 3-4 alignment.
The consensus around the league is that Carter, who is not particularly stout versus the run, is most effective when he plays at right end in a 4-3. In 69 games, Carter has 188 tackles, 32 sacks, seven forced fumbles, two recoveries and 12 passes defensed.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.