Since the start of free agency in March, Andre Carter seemed destined to return to the New England Patriots in 2012. After terrorizing quarterbacks with 10 sacks and earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2011, it seems like a no-brainer for the Patriots to re-sign Carter before training camp starts next week.
However, after suffering a quad injury late last season, is Carter healthy enough to return to football?
Carter was a guest on Sirius XM NFL Radio's Movin' the Chains program on Wednesday and was asked about his health (as reported by Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston):
“Good. Healing fast, man. Just working with my physical therapist, they’re always amazed, every day I come in here, I always surprise them with something different. Just that muscle memory. It’s been pretty big ever since I played this game.”
In a separate interview with Jason La Canfora of CBSSports, Carter was asked about a potential reunion with New England:
"It would be great, it would be great. But as you know it's a business as well. I'm just training my mind and body to prepare for another season, and hopefully a team will be interested in me and take a chance and I can go out and perform the best way I can. If it's New England, that would be awesome."
With Carter all but completely healed and clearly showing interest in a return to New England, what's the holdup?
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that the problem might be money. According to Howe, Carter is looking for a three- to four-year deal that reflects his 2011 Pro Bowl performance.
With the Patriots investing high draft picks in young defensive ends Chandler Jones and Jake Bequette in this year's NFL draft, it is unlikely that they are willing to cough up the dollars for a big contract to bring Carter back.
If the Patriots and Carter fail to meet somewhere in the middle in terms of a new deal, we may have seen the last of Carter in a Patriots jersey.