Bruce Carter (American football)

Bruce Edward Carter (born February 19, 1988) is an American football linebacker who is currently a free agent. He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of North Carolina.

Bruce Carter
refer to caption
Carter with the Atlanta Falcons in 2018
Free agent
Personal information
Born: (1988-02-19) February 19, 1988 (age 32)
Havelock, North Carolina
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:240 lb (109 kg)
Career information
High school:Havelock
(Havelock, North Carolina)
College:North Carolina
NFL Draft:2011 / Round: 2 / Pick: 40
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • 2005 High School All-American (SuperPrep)
  • 2× Second-team All-ACC (2009, 2010)
Career NFL statistics as of 2018
Total tackles:332
Forced fumbles:0
Fumble recoveries:0
Defensive touchdowns:1
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Early yearsEdit

Carter attended Havelock High School in Havelock, North Carolina. He played quarterback, safety and running back for the football team. As a senior, he rushed for 1,063 yards with 15 touchdowns as a running back and threw for 585 yards and five touchdowns as a quarterback.

Considered a three-star recruit by, Carter was listed as the No. 33 safety prospect in the nation.[1]

College careerEdit

Freshman yearEdit

Carter was converted to linebacker in college. In the Tar Heels' season opener, against James Madison, Carter got his first blocked punt. The football was recovered in the end zone by a fellow Tar Heel for a touchdown. Carter started his first game as a Tar Heel in the game against East Carolina, he garnered four tackles during the game. As a freshman in 2007 Carter started seven of 12 games, recording 25 tackles.

Sophomore yearEdit

As a sophomore in 2008 Carter started all 13 games at outside linebacker. In the game against Rutgers, Carter intercepted a pass and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown, this was the first touchdown of his career. In the Tar Heels' game against Miami, Carter blocked one punt. The blocked punt proved to be crucial, as the Tar Heels drove 56 yards down the field and scored after the punt was blocked. One of Bruce Carter's best games of his sophomore season was the game against Connecticut. The blocking of three punts in one game earned Carter the ACC record for most punts blocked in a single game. In that game he recorded three blocked punts, all of which occurred during the second quarter of the game. In the Tar Heels' loss to the Virginia Cavaliers, Carter blocked a Cavalier field goal attempt. He finished the season with 68 tackles, five sacks, an interception, which was returned for a touchdown, and a nation leading five blocked kicks.[2]

Junior yearEdit

Carter started all 13 games as an outside linebacker. Carter tipped a punt in the Tar Heel's game against the Citadel. In the Tar Heels' game against Georgia Southern, Carter intercepted a pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown, this was Carter's second career touchdown. As a junior in 2009, Carter has 48 tackles, a sack, and an interception. Carter earned a career-high 13 tackles in the game against NC State. Carter was voted to Second-Team All-ACC. This was Carter's only season where he did not record a blocked punt.

Senior yearEdit

Carter returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown in the third game of the season against Rutgers. In that game Carter also recorded a blocked punt and seven tackles. Carter's senior season was cut short due to a knee injury, which dropped his draft stock. He sustained the injury during the game against NC State. He would miss the last two games of the season against Duke and the 2010 Music City Bowl, which was played against Tennessee Volunteers.

He was a finalist for the 2010 Butkus Award, but lost to Von Miller of Texas A&M. He finished his final season as a Tar Heel with 57 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. Carter was again voted to Second-Team All-ACC.

Professional careerEdit

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad BP
6 ft 2 in
(1.88 m)
241 lb
(109 kg)
32 58 in
(0.83 m)
9 14 in
(0.23 m)
24 reps
All values from NFL Combine[3]

Dallas CowboysEdit

2011 seasonEdit

Carter was considered one of the top linebacker prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft.[4][5] Carter was projected as a first round draft pick before sustaining an ACL injury in his left knee during his senior season. The Dallas Cowboys selected him in the second round (40th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft.[6][7]

He spent his rookie season recovering from the injury. On October 29, he was activated from the non-football injury list to the Cowboys active roster, taking the spot of the waived Tashard Choice. His participation was mostly limited to special teams, playing only a total of 41 defensive snaps.

2012 seasonEdit

Entering the 2012 season the team decided not to resign Keith Brooking and Bradie James, because they considered Carter to be ready to start at inside linebacker next to Sean Lee, after playing outside linebacker for most of his college career.[8][9]

The Cowboys also signed Dan Connor as a free agent to compete with Carter and to protect themselves in case he couldn't earn a starting role. That potential competition never materialized, because Carter would end up having a break out year, even expanding his role after Lee was placed on injured reserve in October. He finished second on the team with 70 tackles, despite being placed on injured reserve for the final five games, after dislocating his left elbow on Thanksgiving Day.[10]

2013 seasonEdit

In 2013, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was hired to change the defense to a 4-3 alignment, so he was switched to weakside linebacker, which was the same role in the Tampa 2 defense made famous by hall of famer Derrick Brooks. Although he was seen as a natural fit and there were high expectations placed on him, he struggled in preseason, where he started being platooned with Ernie Sims. These difficulties carried on into the regular season and after a poor performance against the San Diego Chargers, he was benched for the first time at any level. After two games he regained his starter role over Sims and finished with 96 tackles (third on the team) and 2 sacks.

2014 seasonEdit

In 2014, he was moved to strongside linebacker, so he could line behind the three-technique right defensive tackle position and be free to make plays. He suffered a right quadriceps injury against the New Orleans Saints and was lost for three games. Although his playing time was reduced in November, losing his starting role after the game against the Arizona Cardinals, he would finish strong while concentrating on the nickel defense and special teams, finishing with 68 tackles, 5 interceptions (led the team), 8 passes defensed and a blocked punt.[11]

Tampa Bay BuccaneersEdit

On March 11, 2015, he signed a four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.[12][13] Although he was projected to start at middle linebacker, he was moved to sam linebacker, after rookie Kwon Alexander outperformed him in training camp. He was used mostly as a backup (only 3 starts), finishing with 47 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 passes defensed. On March 8, 2016, he was waived in a salary cap move.[14]

New York JetsEdit

2016 seasonEdit

Carter signed a one-year contract with the New York Jets on April 2.[15] He appeared in 13 games, registering 13 defensive tackles and 5 special teams tackles.

2017 seasonEdit

On May 4, Carter re-signed with the Jets on a one year contract.[16] He played in 14 games.

Atlanta FalconsEdit

Carter and his teammates in a game against the Washington Redskins

On September 25, 2018, Carter was signed by the Atlanta Falcons.[17]

On February 11, 2019, Carter signed a one-year contract extension with the Falcons.[18] He was released on August 31, 2019.[19]


  1. ^ "Safeties 2006",, January 30, 2006
  2. ^ "Bruce Carter will block that kick". Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  3. ^ "NFL Draft Profile: Bruce Carter".
  4. ^ "NFL Draft - 2011 OLB Draft Prospects",, retrieved November 24, 2009
  5. ^ "Bruce Carter Profile",, archived from the original on March 12, 2012, retrieved November 24, 2009
  6. ^ "2011 NFL Draft Listing". Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  7. ^ "All Cowboys draft picks now under contract". July 29, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  8. ^ Archer, Todd. "Cowboys confident Bruce Carter can get it done - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN Dallas". Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  9. ^ Orsborn, Tom (September 8, 2012). "Carter-Lee duo provides Cowboys' inside scoop at linebacker - San Antonio Express-News". Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  10. ^ "Cowboys shelve Bruce Carter". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  11. ^ "Bruce Carter flourishing in new role". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  12. ^ Hartstein, Larry. "Bucs sign LB Bruce Carter to four-year deal". CBSSports. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  13. ^ Smith, Scott (March 11, 2015). "Bucs Land Carter to Strengthen LB Corps". Archived from the original on January 2, 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  14. ^ "Deposed LB Bruce Carter dumped by Bucs 1 year into four-year deal". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  15. ^ Patra, Kevin (April 2, 2016). "Jets agree to 1-year deal with Ex-Bucs LB Bruce Carter". Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  16. ^ Lange, Randy (May 4, 2017). "Jets Re-Sign LB Bruce Carter". Archived from the original on January 2, 2018.
  17. ^ McFadden, Will (September 25, 2018). "Falcons place Ricardo Allen on injured reserve; make several roster moves".
  18. ^ McFadden, Will (February 11, 2019). "Falcons give Bruce Carter contract extension".
  19. ^ McFadden, Will (August 31, 2019). "Falcons 2019 roster announced".

External linksEdit