The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released linebacker Bruce Carter and re-signed safety Keith Tandy, the team announced today.
Carter was signed to a four-year, $17 million deal last year, but that quickly turned into a one-year, $4.2 million contract. He was expected to take over the starting middle linebacker role when he was signed, but lost that job to fourth-round rookie Kwon Alexander in training camp. He then lost the battle for strongside linebacker to Danny Lansanah, and saw the field sparingly until Alexander was suspended for four games for performance enhancing drugs.
Carter actually played well over his final three games (he missed one of the last four with injury), but his status as a strongside linebacker at best didn't justify his salary. The Bucs free up $4.25 million by releasing him. His release is also an indication that the hints about Mike Smith playing more of a hybrid defense may have been a bit exaggerated: they could have used Carter if they planned to play a lot of 3-4 fronts.
As for Tandy, he's been a useful but limited safety since being drafted out of West Virginia in 2012. He mainly sees the field in the red zone and in some other sub packages, and played 285 snaps on defense last year -- or 26% of the defensive plays. He should continue to get some more playing time in that role, but he's too limited as an athlete to be a starting free safety.