32 year old free agent to be Andre Carter has quietly put up some big years recently. He had 11 sacks with Washington in 2009 and 10 with the Patriots this year, including a 4 sack outburst against the Jets in the Meadowlands. This is not just a case of a guy who either gets sacks or does not get near the quarterback either. In both 2009 and 2011, Pro Football Focus notes he either registered a sack, hit, or pressure on over 10% of his pass rushes, a very robust number.
Carter is not a big name. He will likely command a moderate contract. The Patriots put very specific limits on what they are willing to spend on players so the right deal could convince him to go. The biggest downside for Carter is his age. How much longer can he keep things up? He will be 33 before the season starts. He is also coming off a torn quadriceps that ended his season in December.
Another issue is the lack of schematic versatility. Rex Ryan has liked to run a defense with multiple looks during his time with the Jets. Did you notice how I talked about the seasons Carter had in 2009 and 2011 but not 2010? He fell off the map playing as a standup rush linebacker when the Redskins moved to a 3-4 base defense.
I think people wildly overrate the significance of the fronts the Jets show when they dismiss a player as a good fit because he is a 4-3 player. The Jets have run a lot of 4-3 fronts under Ryan. This offseason in particular, however, provides them a real opportunity if they want to shift to become a more conventional 4-3 team.
As Bart Scott is rumored to be on the way out, and Bryan Thomas will be a free agent coming off a serious injury, they might be in the market for a new linebacking corps. David Harris is under contract. They could potentially find some 4-3 linebackers. They have the linemen to play it. Mike Devito could be the nose tackle tying up blockers and playing the run. Muhammad Wilkerson could play the three technique and be the penetrator. Calvin Pace seems suited to play left end, the lineman stout against the run against mauler right tackles who can rush the passer a little. Adding a right end who can get to the quarterback like Carter might be one way to go.
I would not mind seeing the Jets sign Carter to a reasonable deal to beef up his pass rush, but due to his age I would not want them to stop there. I think they still would need to add another pass rusher in addition to feel good about things.