Carter: Washington just wasn't right fit

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Carter: Washington just wasn't right fit

FOXBORO -- It was a simple question.

After recording nine sacks in his first 10 games with the Patriots, Andre Carter was asked if he has been double-teamed more in the last two weeks against the Eagles and the Colts, in which he recorded no sacks and had only two solo tackles.

Carter gave a simple answer.

"Yup!" he said, smiling ear-to-ear. "You know the answer to that question."

And why wouldn't teams double-up on the Patriots' defensive end? Being brought back into a 4-3 scheme, Carter feels more comfortable than he did in his final season with the Washington Redskins last year.

That relationship ended in March, when Carter was released before he entered the final year of his contract with the team. Carter said the break-up was mutual. The Redskins had changed to a 3-4 defense, and both sides knew that Carter wasn't best suited as an outside linebacker.

"He wanted an opportunity to go someplace," said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan in a conference call on Wednesday. "And we had talked about his ability to rush the quarterback. We were running a 3-4 defensive scheme and using him more as an outside linebacker. And we knew we couldn't pay him what he was making. But we knew there would be somebody out there that would pay him what he deserved, or at least, what we thought he deserved. And we let him go, just because he was such a class guy."

"In the end, I knew it just wasn't right for me," said Carter on Wednesday, as he prepares for Sunday's game with his old Redskins team, in Washington. "And they knew that too, but they appreciated my hard work. I never complained. I just went out there day by day, and at the end, we shook hands, and it was a mutual agreement on both terms.

"Last year I played more of the linebacker-type position in the 3-4," he said. "I covered a lot more during that time last year. But now I'm just more of a defensive end, putting your hand in the dirt, and rock and roll."

Carter finished last season with only three sacks and 25 solo tackles in 16 games. He's already surpassed those totals in 12 games with New England, recording 29 solo tackles and nine sacks.

Not bad for a guy who thought his NFL career was over after he parted ways with Washington, before signing with the Patriots in August.

"Everything that I've done has been such a blessing, to be here and get picked up," said Carter. "Because I tell everybody, I thought I was actually done, coming into this season. So just to be productive and just to have fun and play the game that I've been blessed to play for so many years. It's just a wonderful feeling.

"Because of what was going on with the lockout, and vets not getting picked up, it was definitely a long shot. But God has definitely blessed me and my family, I'm enjoying every moment."

Bill Belichick saw that the 3-4 wasn't a good fit for Carter, and brought him to New England because he thought he'd be a good fit in their 4-3 scheme.

"We need players that can play and hes done a good job of that," said Belichick. "Certainly bringing a professional approach to the game, thats great too. Hes done a good job at everything. Hes very attentive. Hes in excellent physical condition, hes out there, he takes a lot of plays, he plays them hard in practice and the games. Hes very professional in his approach.

"Weve asked him to do some different things, hes embraced those and tried the things that he knows how to do. The things that are a little bit new or different for him, hes tried hard to learn and understand how we want those things done. Very unselfish player that works hard and is consistent. You get the same effort out of him every day, seven days a week, whatever this is, 16 games or however many weve played. Hes really the same dependable player on a daily basis with a lot of consistency. All those are strengths. I dont know how you rank them, but theyre all important. He does a great job at all of them. Hes been such a pleasure to have on this team and hes added a lot to our football team in a lot of different ways."

Tom Brady echoed the same sentiment.

"Hes got a great attitude, really professional," said Brady. "You see the way he takes care of himself before practice, after practice. He's always out there doing extra conditioning. He's really a true professional, and thats why he's been around. That's why hes been productive really everywhere he's been. Its great to have him on the team."

After a few weeks in which he hasn't been quite as effective as his first nine games of the season, Carter now finds himself in an emotional game, walking into his old team's building.

He admitted, on Wednesday that leaving Washington was a risk, but said, "I had to go upon my faith in my ability to know that that particular fit just didn't work for what I did. I did my due diligence last year, as far as learning a new position."

And he's doing more than just his "due diligence" this season with the Patriots. He's back in his comfort zone as a defensive end, and he's having the type of season he once thought he'd never get the opportunity to have again.

Now, heading into Week 14, he's being double-teamed for his bounce-back performance. And he's handling it the Patriot way.

"As a player, you try to find a way to make those adjustments, but I can't get frustrated," said Carter. "I just think I'm just happy to see other guys playing well, and that's what you do. You celebrate with your teammates, because this is a team sport."

Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl

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Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl

NFL Siberia can’t be all that bad. The Cleveland Browns have signed Jamie Collins to an extension that keeps him off the free agent market.

The former Patriot, stunningly shipped out of town on Halloween, has agreed to a reported four-year, $50 million deal with $26M in guaranteed money.

As eyebrow-raising as the move was at the time, this is an all’s well that ends well story.

Collins, a reluctant Patriot once it came clear the team wouldn’t to aim a confetti cannon of money at him, gets the desired big-dough deal. He didn’t drape himself in glory with his level of play this year in New England, but his agitation over making $900K this year was understandable.

The Patriots -- who made the deal not knowing exactly how it would work out with Collins’ fleet of replacements (primarily rookie Elandon Roberts and, October acquisition Kyle Van Noy) -- have played better defense since Collins has been gone and are headed to the Super Bowl.

Would they have been better if Collins stayed? The answer to that is a question: Which version of Collins, the irked one or the motivated one?

Collins did nothing to veil his desire for a huge contract, saying at the end of the season he’d stay with the hapless Browns if the money was right. Now that he’s decided the money was right, what kind of Collins will the Browns get? With $26M guaranteed, the Browns have tethered themselves to the 27-year-old Collins for a chunk of his prime. The shorter term is ideal for Collins because -- if he performs to his capability -- he’ll be able to see another lucrative deal before he’s too aged.

The deal will certainly be noticed by Collins’ former teammates, primarily Donta Hightower who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

The Patriots could franchise Hightower (last year’s tag number was more than $14M) but that’s not going to be ideal for either side. Hightower will want to get the windfall of guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal and the Patriots may be reluctant to pay that much to a player that’s got an injury history and plays one of the game’s most violent positions.

A lot’s going to happen between now and the time the Patriots have to make their decision. A good deal of it will happen in the next 12 days. If Hightower stealthily saves the Super Bowl as he did in 2014 with his first-down tackle on Marshawn Lynch … how do you put a price on that?