What is the Buffalo Bills' biggest need this off-season? This community says it's neck-and-neck between defensive tackle and wide receiver; needless to say, there are a huge amount of Bills fans who would like nothing more to see the Bills add a wide receiver this off-season.
What happens, though, if the "big names" available - such as Bryant Johnson and Ernest Wilford (stay tuned for more on them) - are off of the market too early for the Bills to make a serious run at them? There are Plan B options that wouldn't provide us with much comfort heading into next season, but at least have some potential. One of those players is Panthers free agent wideout Drew Carter. The young veteran has started intermittently next to Steve Smith for the past two seasons, yet hasn't been nearly consistent enough to take pressure off of Smith in the Panthers' aerial attack. Still, the youngster has been somewhat productive as a red zone target and has yet to maximize his potential - so there would be some value to a Carter signing.
Cat Scratch Reader's Take
Jack Finney, head blogger at SB Nation's Panthers blog, Cat Scratch Reader, has seen Carter play first-hand over the first portion of Carter's career. He was kind enough to answer a few questions of mine in relation to Carter; his answers help us get a better grasp on Carter as a player:
Carter had a lot of opportunity to emerge as the #2 opposite Steve Smith, but never seemed to be very consistent. Do you think he has #2 capability?
Carter has been a bit of an enigma with Carolina. He started last season with a bang (4 catches and 2 TD's in game one) but then finished the season with only 4 TD's despite starting the second half of the season. He just disappeared at times. At 6'4" and tons of speed he should be a bigger threat than he is. Can he be a solid #2? It seems he should be but he hasn't yet.
What are the chances, in your mind, that the Panthers re-sign Carter to see if he can finally lock down a starting spot permanently?
I'm expecting the Panthers to re-sign him though they haven't given any indication yet. This is his fifth season so it's "put up or shut up" time. If the Panthers don't re-sign him I'm sure someone else will give him a chance. I would like to give him one more season. Maybe by then Dwayne Jarrett will be ready to go.
In general, what do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of Carter's game?
I don't really know what his problem is. He battles drops and sometimes just can't get open on those critical third downs. He improved as a blocker though so I don't think it's a strength issue. His strengths are his height and speed. His weaknesses are drops and failure to get open. He is an average blocker and has average hands.
Clearly, Carter is not the ideal external candidate to bring in as a starter - in fact, it's not a guarantee that he'd start at all here - but he's the type of free agent that the Bills' front office seems to favor. Carter fits the Teyo Johnson, Darian Barnes and Jason Webster mold - he's a young player with a large amount of talent that the coaches can try to mold into a decent starter. He'd also be a much cheaper option than the likes of Johnson, Wilford or Hackett.
Carter is, and will continue to be for at least the next year, a project player. He is not a player that every Bills fan would get jacked up about if brought in, but something about the kid's raw skills has me intrigued. If the Bills aren't able to scrape up a big enough offer to the likes of Wilford or Hackett, I for one wouldn't mind seeing Carter brought in on a short-term deal - he's talented, and it may take a different setting for him to finally realize his potential.
I'd love to hear your thoughts not only on Carter and his impending free agency, but how you'd like to see these bios/interviews structured as we move forward. Be sure to check out our free agent database, a one-stop shop where you can track all of these interviews. Have at it, folks.