Now that we’re in full offseason mode, we’re going to review every single Detroit Lions player that finished the 2016 season under contract. We’ll look at their expectations coming into the season, whether they met those expectations and what to expect of them going forward. We will begin with the upcoming free agents, as they are the most intriguing and time sensitive.
Expectations before 2016
Most Lions fans didn’t have any clear expectations for Carter going into 2016. Carter had yet to see the field and all potential for him as a contributing cornerback remained completely hypothetical. Still, 34 percent of fans in July held out hope Carter would win the No. 2 cornerback spot over Nevin Lawson.
Actual Role in 2016
2016 stats: 1 games (0 starts) | 4 special teams snaps, 0 tackles
Alex Carter did not make the final 53-man roster when cuts were made just before the beginning of the season. He did, however, make it to Detroit’s practice squad, where he stayed until Week 16, when he was promoted to the active squad. Despite being part of the active game day roster against the Cowboys—the only time that would happen all season—Carter did not see the field for a single defensive snap.
Outlook for 2017
Contract status: Exclusive rights free agent
The Lions can keep Carter around in 2017 at little-to-no cost: As an ERFA, Carter won’t be able to negotiate with any other teams if the Lions offer him a one-year, minimum salary tender. The question is will the Lions even bother? Carter finally had a season completely unencumbered by injury, but couldn’t even find his way to the active roster on defense all year. Carter, a third-round draft pick in 2015, is now two years into his NFL career and doesn’t have a defensive snap to his name.
However, Carter comes at an extremely low cost, and at 22 years old, there’s still hope for some potential to eventually emerge. After all, he lost his rookie season to injury, making 2016 his true rookie year. There’s little harm in offering Carter a tender and keeping him around, at least while the roster can be as high as 90 players. If it doesn’t work out, he would still be practice squad eligible in 2017.