Darrin Simmons has spent a long time coaching for the Cincinnati Bengals. Not only is he sticking around for Zac Taylor’s regime as the team’s special teams coach, he’s entering his first season as Taylor’s new assistant head coach.
Simmons should continue having a major influence on the structure of the Bengals’ roster, and that bodes well for players like Cethan Carter.
Back for his fourth season with the Bengals, Carter’s special teams facility will keep him in good favor when this preseason-less offseason comes to a close.
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Experience: four years
Carter was a restricted free agent this offseason and the Bengals used the original-round tender to retain him. He’s under contract for this season alone and will take home a salary of $2.133 million, which is the same as his cap hit for the season.
The numbers didn’t portray Carter as a particularly dominant college tight end. At Nebraska, Taylor’s alma mater, Carter quietly finished fifth in school history in receptions (59) as well as being a two-time All-Big 10 honorable mention. That lack of production and an uninspiring NFL combine performance led to Carter going unselected during the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Bengals quickly snagged Carter as a college free agent following the draft and has been with the team ever since then. He made the 53-man roster during his rookie season and nearly reached 300 snaps on special teams. A similar role was in store for him in 2018 before he tore his labrum in the preseason finale that year.
Carter earned his spot back in 2019 after spending a year on Injured Reserve and established himself as the offense’s third tight end and a key member on special teams; he finished third on the team in snaps for that unit.
Carter signed his aforementioned tender earlier in the offseason. The one-year deal will more than double his career earnings.
Outlook for 2020
2020 can be the first year Carter has a second consecutive healthy year. And in another contract year, Carter’s continued availability will make him a threat to the tight end position. Sure, his role in the offense won’t change very much, but you have to figure Simmons will want to keep him around after players like Clayton Fejedelem and Tony McRae left the team.
If Jordan Evans doesn’t make it through final cuts, Carter will be the most experienced special teamer the roster will have kept going back to last year. His limitations as a receiver bump down his overall chances a little bit, but it’s like the team has an abundance of talent at the position.
On top of all that, the Bengals could’ve declined to offer Carter any tender and let him enter unrestricted free agency like they did with cornerbacks Greg Mabin and Torry McTyer. Instead, they put a more sizable investment into him.
If the offense decides to keep just three tight ends, Carter is the overwhelming favorite to be the third. It makes too much sense to hold onto him for another year while the rest of the position group continues to develop.
Roster Odds: 85%