Cowboys free-agent debate: Bruce Carter

With 20 players set to be restricted or unrestricted free agents, the Dallas Cowboys will have plenty of decisions to make on who to keep and who to let go.

Let’s take a look at the free agents to be and how they could fit into the Cowboys' future:

Linebacker Bruce Carter

Type: Unrestricted

What he did: Carter led the Cowboys with five interceptions, with three coming in the last three games. Three of his four tackles for loss in the regular season came in the final three games. Three of his eight pass deflections came in the last three games. He had 12 tackles in the regular-season finale to finish with 75, according to the coaches’ breakdown. He also had a sack and three quarterback pressures. He missed three games with a quadriceps injury, and started eight of the 13 games he played. He played all three linebacker spots, but seemed to find a home at strongside linebacker.

What he could do: The Cowboys have to figure out if the Carter who closed the season can play that way for an entire season. A second-round pick in 2011, Carter has battled consistency issues his entire career with the Cowboys. For every good game or play, he would revert back to head-scratching ways that confounded his coaches. In the past 11 drafts, the Cowboys have kept two second-round picks on second contracts: Andre Gurode and Sean Lee. They did not have second-round picks in 2007 or 2009 because of trades. Carter would be able to fill multiple holes depending on how the Cowboys handle their other free-agent linebackers -- Justin Durant and Rolando McClain.

What it should cost: The Washington Redskins paid Perry Riley a three-year deal worth $12 million last year that included $5 million in guaranteed money. Different schemes and different positions, but could that be Carter’s market? He has not played a full season in his career, but he showed the ability to make some plays last season. Consistency, however, is the key. Can he be counted on every week?

The series:

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