The Cincinnati Bengals would love to have some more depth at tight end, so Cethan Carter could be a darkhorse for the roster.
Does Carter have a legitimate shot at the 53-man roster, or is he simply fighting for a spot on the practice squad, at best?
Position: Tight end
Weight: 241 pounds
Carter is signed to a 3-year, $1,665,000 contract with the Bengals. In 2017, Carter will have a cap hit of $465,000 if he makes the final roster, per Spotrac.
Carter was a standout player during his college career at Nebraska, though he could never quite put a full season together. He saw the field immediately for the Cornhuskers, appearing in all 13 of the team’s games as a freshman and starting six of them.
As one of only seven true freshmen to play for Nebraska that season, Carter caught 10 passes for 127 yards. His sophomore season was derailed by a mid-season foot injury, though he started eight games and caught six passes for 98 yards and one score.
As a junior in 2015, Carter started 11 games and caught 24 balls for 329 yards and two scores. As a senior last season, Carter missed time with an elbow injury but still was voted honorable mention All-Big Ten in 10 games played while catching 19 passes for 190 yards and a score.
During Carter’s final two seasons at Nebraska, the Cornhuskers experimented with him as an h-back and would even hand the ball off to him. Carter had just five career rushing attempts, but he racked up 82 yards (16.4 per carry) and scored a 32-yard touchdown against Rutgers as a junior.
Carter’s 59 career receptions are fifth all-time at Nebraska for catches by a tight end. He averaged a respectable 12.6 yards per catch during his Cornhuskers career.
But while Carter’s numbers were solid, he was more regarded as a great blocking tight end who helped anchor a run-focused Nebraska offense. The Bengals love blocking tight ends, so perhaps Carter is a darkhorse for a roster spot in this role.
Carter may have a complete game, but he’s still facing long odds of cracking the 53-man roster. As long as Tyler Eifert, C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Kroft are healthy, those are the three tight ends Cincinnati will keep along with h-back Ryan Hewitt. Carter also has to overcome seventh-round rookie Mason Schreck, who’s been a mixed bag in camp thus far.
What may help Carter’s chances is Uzomah missing time due to an ankle sprain suffered in the final week before the preseason. It remains to be seen how long Uzomah will be out, but Carer will nonetheless get more reps because of it.
That should give Carter enough chances to, if nothing else, show he’s worthy of a spot on the practice squad. He looked good in limited action in the Bengals’ preseason win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he’s still got some work to do just to get a spot on the practice squad as a developmental tight end.
Odds: 5 percent.