The New York Jets surprisingly released Michael Carter Tuesday afternoon, adding an experienced running back to the waiver wire who could add some immediate help for contending teams in need.
Carter was originally chosen in the fourth-round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and had been supplanted on the Jets' depth chart over the past two seasons both by the emergence of dynamic running back Breece Hall, and again this season with Hall's return from a torn ACL suffered early last season.
The 24-year-old former University of North Carolina Standout had previously appeared in 39 career games, rushing for 1,079 yards and seven touchdowns, while averaging four yards per carry. Adding the versatility of being a dangerous pass-catcher out of the backfield, Carter has 92 receptions for 681 yards.
However, with Hall's return and the arrival of veteran running back Dalvin Cook, as a free agent this summer, Hall saw his role dramatically reduced this season. Carter appeared in nine games this season, playing a total of 153 snaps, with 11 of them coming on special teams.
Cook is coming off one of his most significant workloads of the season, rushing for 26 yards on four carries against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday night.
Carter now hits the waiver wire, and these five teams could be ideal fits to claim him off waivers in the coming days:
The Minnesota Vikings and Joshua Dobbs have won five straight games, despite injuries mounting, especially in the backfield.
Alexander Mattison was forced into the concussion protocol during Sunday's 27-19 victory over the New Orleans Saints, on the heels of Cam Akers tearing his Achilles back on Nov. 8. When the Vikings take on the Denver Broncos next Monday night, to close out Week 11, the only healthy running backs on the roster are Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangu. Adding Carter would round out the Vikings' backfield, and add some quality depth, especially once Mattison returns, for a stretch run that has the potential to turn into a playoff push.
If the season ended today, the Bengals would be in the unfamiliar territory of being on the outside looking in at the postseason.
While Cincinnati has turned its season around, largely on the back of Joe Burrow returning to form and being able to exploit the explosiveness deep on the perimeter with dynamic receivers Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, the Bengals' running game has been the offense's undoing. There is very little preventing Carter from ascending up the depth chart and emerging as the clear No. 2 back, behind Joe Mixon. Meanwhile, Carter's ability as a pass-catcher could add a much-needed wrinkle and additional weapon to Burrow's arsenal in passing game, as well.
If the season ended today, the Texans would make the playoffs as the final wild card in the AFC, but submitted an injury report the size of War and Peace for Sunday's victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Against the Bengals, Devin Singletary emerged as a legitimate weapon in the backfield alongside C.J. Stroud, rushing for 150 yards with a touchdown, but the Texans lack proven options right now at running back. At age 24, Carter is young enough to play his way into becoming part of the core that the Texans and general manager Nick Caserio are building.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams' offense has struggled finding any semblance of consistency since Kyren Williams suffered an ankle injury, as neither Darrell Henderson nor Royce Freeman or Zach Evans have logged a 100-yard rushing game while the trio has combined for just a pair of rushing touchdowns.
While Los Angeles is firmly on the outside looking in at the playoff race in 2023, Carter could ultimately play his way into a home in a young backfield by committee alongside Williams, and Evans. If the Rams wind up putting in a waiver claim on Carter, Sean McVay and Staff could get him up to speed in the system over the second half of this season and potentially set the stage for his role in 2024 and beyond.
Kansas City Chiefs
If there is one team that is consistently on the prowl for adding offensive weapons, it's general manager Brett Veach and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Thus far in his career, Clyde Edwards-Helaire has largely failed to live up to his first-round pick billing, Jerrick McKinnon has been held to just 23 rushing yards so far this season, and while Isaiah Pacheco has flashed some explosiveness while rushing for 525 yards with three touchdowns, Kansas City could use some more consistent production from the running back position. If nothing else, a healthy and reasonably productive Carter could keep Pacheco fresh when Kansas City could use his speed to wear down potentially already tired defenses.
Carter will officially clear waivers on Wednesday, Nov. 15. However, if no teams wind up putting in a claim on Carter, he will be eligible to sign as an unrestricted free agent with the team of his choosing.
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