With an NFL lockout looming, the Redskins began to make cuts this week in order to modify the roster to head coach Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's vision. That began with the release of running back Clinton Portis on Monday, guard Derrick Dockery early Tuesday and then later on Tuesday afternoon, linebacker Andre Carter.
For today's NFL standards, all three had reasonably long tenures with the Redskins but none had contributed more to THN than Carter, who graciously gave us his time every week since before the 2008 season. Carter's class and willingness to be sociable had no boundaries and THN was fortunate enough to reap the benefits of that.
His release was not unexpected as he had trouble adjusting from defensive end to linebacker. His pass rushing production dropped from 11 sacks in 2009 to 2.5 in 2010 and his pass coverage was not up to par, either.
Even when THN broke the news of his move to linebacker last year, he was not comfortable with the switch.
“As soon as I think I'm out, they put me back in,” Carter jokingly told THN in January 2010. “I can play linebacker. I know I am a true defensive end..."
His comfort level with the position never increased but his willingness to get better was always there. The team tried to accommodate him by allowing him to play in a three-point stance midway through the 2010 season but in the end, it was not enough to complete the transition.
He told the media following the season finale against the New York Giants that he would be surprised if the Redskins picked up his roster option for the 2011 season. His intuition was right, as the Redskins declined to pick it up and cut him Tuesday, making him an unrestricted free agent and immediately available to sign with any team.
Despite getting the news of his release from Coach Shanahan on Tuesday, Carter says he and the team have no hard feelings.
"The Redskins and I parted on good terms. It was a mutual understanding. I was never a fit in the scheme. They know I perform better at defensive end and I know my potential. It was a positive outcome and I wish the Redskins nothing but the best," he told THN on Tuesday night.
Carter has a lot of memories from his five seasons in Washington but none stood out to him more than when the team rallied around each other to make a memorable playoff run in the wake of Sean Taylor's untimely passing.
"The unforgettable year of 2007 (stood out the most). The experience I had that year can never be replicated. It's indescribable and can only be embraced once in a lifetime. I'm fortunate to work with the men who believed in the purpose to come together with one goal and we were victorious," Carter said.
It is hard to match a team that gelled together in a time of need such as the 2007 Redskins but Carter will have to try to acclimate himself on another roster after spending his time with the Redskins since 2006.
When asked if he would be willing to play for the rival Philadelphia Eagles or New York Giants, both NFC East teams that run the 4-3 defense, he would not rule them out.
"I'm willing to play for a team who is familiar with my talent and work ethic," Carter said.
Wherever he ends up, he will always hold the Redskins fans in high regard.
"The fans have been amazing. It's unfortunate that we had been unsuccessful these past few years. And I can cope with less fans in the stands due to losses than wins. It's the reality of the business. Regardless, I am fortunate to play in a crowd of burgundy and gold. It's an adrenaline rush and I embraced every moment of it."
Carter described his time with the Redskins as a unique and adventurous one and wanted to give his thanks to those who made it possible.
"I give thanks to my God Almighty. Thank you for your love, your grace and understanding. To my wife for putting up with my crazy you know what. To my wonderful kids, Aysha and Quincy, thank you for motivating me more," Carter said.
"After the 2005 season my contract was up with the San Francisco 49ers. My wife and I had no clue what the next career was going to be. The 49ers had offered a lucrative deal in order to continue my career as a linebacker. I admit I did sell myself short and thought the idea to learn a new position would be something I could embrace. Low and behold, the Redskins called my family. It was a blessing in disguise. So after days of praying as a family we had decided to become a Redskin. What a ride it has been. I give thanks to Dan Snyder for having embraced my family to the Redskins organization and to also have two Carter men working at Redskins Park, my father and myself. I am fortunate to play for the legendary Joe Gibbs. What a class act guy, coach, and human being. No words can describe such a great man of faith. My wife and I were drawn to him from jump. Greg Blache and Gregg Williams are the old school of the old school. They made work enjoyable despite wins or losses. They pushed me to a level of performance that I couldn't imagine. And last but not least, the fans. The screams, the laughter, the jokes, I want to say thank you," he concluded.