The Minnesota Vikings have faith that undrafted rookie free agent (UDFA) Andre Carter II will be on the roster come September so much they gave him one of the most lucrative deals awarded to UDFA in league history.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on May 2 that Minnesota offered “one of the biggest commitments to an undrafted free agent.
“The #Vikings signed former Army edge Andre Carter II to a deal that includes a $40,000 signing bonus and $300K base salary guarantee,” Pelissero tweeted. “A sign they believe Carter can make the active roster.
Carter received more guaranteed money than most seventh-round draft picks. The players drafted at the end of the draft usually see an $80,000 signing bonus as their only guarantee.
In 2021, Carter tallied 5.5 sacks, the second-most in college football behind only Will Anderson, who went No. 3 overall in this year’s draft.
Andre Carter Was a Fridge Top-50 Pick Before His Military Status Deterred NFL Teams
Carter secured a ransom respectively considering he went undrafted, which was largely due to questions surrounding his status as a graduate of a service academy.
The U.S. government’s approval of the 2023 spending bill in December contained a revised provision that allows certain service-academy athletes with professional-sports aspirations to continue petitioning the United States military to defer their mandatory post-graduation service, per NFL.com.
However, the option for athletes to defer military service until after their playing careers has been a legal tug-of-war with policy changes happening every few years — making Carter’s prospects in the league still dicey.
After a breakout 2021 season where he tallied 15.5 sacks, Carter was considered a top-50 prospect and a dark horse to become the first service-academy prospect to be drafted to the NFL since 1947.
Approaching the Army-Navy game on December 10, word surfaced that a small section of the U.S. military’s annual budget contained language that would prevent service-academy athletes from deferring their mandatory post-graduation service. It stated, in part: “Agreement by a cadet or midshipman to play professional sport constitutes a breach of agreement to serve as an officer,” per NFL.com
Carter’s family, with support of the Army, Navy and Air Force academies, argued that the sudden change to the provision was unfair to athletes with an interest in continuing their playing careers after college due to Army’s requirement of committing to service by Year 3. NFL.com confirmed that Carter, had options to transfer to big-school programs before his commitment to active service under the impression he could defer his service after his playing career.
The outcry from athletes like Carter who committed before considering their prospects as a professional athlete was heard by lawmakers, who added new language in the omnibus spending package to grandfather in all athletes enrolled before June 1, 2021.
Going forward, all graduates must serve two years of active service immediately after graduating.
A Raw Athlete, Andre Carter Has the Elite Frame for the Edge
At 6-foot-6, 256 pounds, Carter is a lengthy fluid athlete who has the motor to get to the pocket in a hurry.
He’s shown an ability to use his wingspan and speed to set the edge, although his frame is still developing and could use more mass against NFL tackles. Carter is considered a developmental prospect who the Vikings have invested in his future in hopes his work ethic as a military academy graduate pushes a steep development both physically and mentally at the next level.
“You won’t even recognize him in three years with how much his body will change when he’s on an NFL team. He’s going to be a lot thicker and stronger than what you see on tape right now,” a scouting director for an AFC team told NFL.com.