Chiefs Sign Potential Anthony Hitchens Fill-In at LB: Report

Jermaine Carter Jr.

Getty Former Carolina Panthers linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. on October 24, 2021.

When the Kansas City Chiefs decided to trade Tyreek Hill, the move signaled an upcoming second wave of free-agent signings for general manager Brett Veach.

KC was relatively quiet during the opening week of the mid-March frenzy, but the blockbuster deal freed up enough cap space for the franchise to reopen the checkbook and fill some areas of need. The first pickup was wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling — a necessary acquisition after Hill and Demarcus Robinson skipped town.

On March 25, Veach finalized another addition, and this one should help fill the void that the front office created when they cut veteran linebacker, Anthony Hitchens.

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Chiefs Land Carter After Visit

Just the other day on March 24, ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler reported that “free agent linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. is visiting the Chiefs.”

One day later, the ex-Carolina Panther decided to make things official. ESPN NFL insider Field Yates was first on the scene. “The Chiefs are signing former Panthers LB Jermaine Carter Jr.,” he wrote. “He started all 17 games for Carolina last season.”

The 2018 fifth-round pick is coming off a career campaign in terms of tackles, with a total of 88 (three for a loss) as a full-time starter. Carter has two fumble recoveries at the NFL level and two passes defended, with a half-sack in 2019.

Although rookie breakout Nick Bolton is expected to take over as the “captain” of this linebacker core, Carter profiles as a rotational piece that can replace a good chunk of Hitchens’ snap share in 2022.

With Willie Gay Jr. and Bolton stepping into the major roles, Carter would compete for that third linebacker spot alongside reserves like Shilique Calhoun, Darius Harris and newcomer Elijah Lee.

The details of his contract with Kansas City are unknown at this time.

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Carter Has Room for Improvement

The former Maryland product just turned 27 in January, so he’s still moldable clay for veteran defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Based on his Pro Football Focus grades in 2021, Carter could use some fine-tuning.

The linebacker earned an overall score of 42.6 last year, including a run defense grade of 40.4 and a tackling grade of 36.7. Carter wasn’t great in coverage either but did provide some impact as a pass rusher with 11 quarterback pressures, despite never getting to a signal-caller on a sack.

He also had a high missed tackle rate of 18.5% but did contribute 38 defensive stops. For reference, Bolton’s missed tackle rate was down at 5.6% in 2021, with 49 defensive stops.

Carter was an asset on special teams as a four-year contributor in Carolina. Like most Veach signings, the linebacker can help in multiple areas, which is key when piecing together a roster.

He has some speed and raw ability to work with but his game is still a bit rough around the edges. Perhaps the Chiefs can turn the ex-Panther into more of a finished product, as this coaching staff has done with so many other additions over the years.


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