Top 10 Worst Free Agents Signed by the Saints: #6 – Dale Carter

Dale Carter, New Orleans Saints 2002-2003
#6 on the Saints Worst Free Agent Signings

Allen Ulrich, co-member of the Under the Dome Podcast on YouTube posted his Top 10 Worst Free Agent Signings by the Saints in a series on the channel’s Facebook Page. With his permission we’ll be re-posting those articles here on New Orleans Saints History. Here is his #6 choice, signed during the demise of the Haslett Era – Corner Back Dale Carter .

Top 10 worst free agent signings by the Saints:

10. James “Tootie” Robbins
  9. Grady Jackson
  8. Eric Allen
  7. Wally Williams

And now,

6. Dale Carter

Dale Carter was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs out of the University of Tennessee with the 20th pick of the 1992 draft. He would go on to win Rookie of the Year that season, and was a shut down cornerback for one of the AFC’s best defenses.

However, Carter had an alcohol/drug addiction problem that would eventually destroy his career. He has been suspended for drugs use, arrested for assault, gun possession and driving under the influence.

After six seasons in KC, Carter signed a $22.8 million deal with the Broncos –making him the highest paid defensive back in the NFL. However, 1999 was a poor season for Carter, and he earned a year-long suspension in 2000.

The Broncos released Carter, and the Vikings scooped him up, but on a team that had completely collapsed after being the NFC Championship game the season before, Carter did nothing and was released.

Still, the promise of the player he was with Kansas City (where he caught 21 interceptions in 6 seasons), made him too tempting a player for the Saints to pass up in 2002. It was important to note that the Saints also re-signed WR Jake Reed, a Grambling product, who was known for his leadership, and also happened to be Carter’s half-brother.

Reed was with the Saints for the 2000 season, but signed back with the Vikings in 2001, when the Saints sought an upgrade. After the disastrous Saints locker room, the Saints realized Reed’s leadership was more important than his on field production. It was believed that Reed would keep Carter on the proverbial straight and narrow, and the Saints could recapture the Carter who played for the Chiefs.

The Saints signed Carter to a 7-year, $28 million contract, and was rewarded with an indefinite suspension. Some reports stated that after Carter signed the Saints deal, he went to a convenience store and bought a six pack of beer. He drank three of them, and when his (for the lack of a better term) “probation officer” came to check on Carter the next day, he had Carter tested, and he showed a trace of alcohol in his system –which was in violation of the zero tolerance agreement that he signed to come back into the league.

Now whether the beer story is true or not, the fact was Carter did garner a fifth suspension from the league, and it took quite a bit of lobbying to get this latest suspension reduced.

As a result of the suspension and injuries, Carter missed 15 games in two seasons as a Saint. He only managed one interception for 25 yards, and two passes defensed in the games he did play in. The Saints released Carter after the 2003 season.

Carter would go on to finish his career with the Baltimore Ravens, but not before he managed one more problem: bankruptcy. Despite the contracts he signed with the Broncos and the Saints, Carter was in debt for anywhere from $1 to $10 million, owing people for things like jewelry, airline tickets, and even taxes to the federal government.

So while Carter was a $28 million mistake, Carter himself didn’t enrich himself from it. Creditors and the government made sure they got their share first.

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