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Impending Free Agent Adam Carriker Has Set Himself Up For Big Payday

By ZAC BOYER | zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – Adam Carriker was talking to his wife, Angie, after the Washington Redskins’ 34-10 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday and was agonizing over a sack he nearly had of quarterback Michael Vick.

Carriker

“I thought he was down, I’m starting to do my celebration and then he throws the ball,” Carriker said. “I literally yelled at him, ‘Hold onto the ball!’ He just looks at me and smiles. I thought I had a sack.”

It’s a feeling the defensive end is familiar with. He estimates he could have had upwards of 10 sacks this season, depending on how fast he got to the quarterback, if the player escaped or even on the whim of the official scorekeepers.

“It’s just the way it plays out,” Carriker said. “Five’s probably a good number.”

It was, in fact, 5.5 sacks for the 6-foot-6, 315-pound Carriker this season, and he’ll find that extra shared sack important this offseason. For the first time, Carriker will be an unrestricted free agent, and he’ll have to balance the lure of a large payday with any emotions or ties he’s developed in his two years in Washington.

The Redskins will have a decision to make when considering Carriker. Acquired via trade before the 2010 season from St. Louis, where he was a first-round draft pick in 2007 out of Nebraska, Carriker has found himself much more comfortable as a defensive end in the Redskins’ 3-4 scheme.

But the team also has Jarvis Jenkins, a second-round pick last April who tore the ACL in his left knee before the season began, waiting to make his professional debut. Depending on their projections of what Jenkins can do – and he showed flashes of being a high-level player before the injury – the Redskins will have to mull over extending a competitive offer to Carriker.

The value of a 3-4 defensive end is difficult to evaluate. Stephen Bowen, the Redskins’ other defensive end, signed a five-year, $27.5 million deal to play for the team when the owners’ lockout ended late in July. Carriker’s rookie deal from St. Louis was for five years and $14.5 million, but the Rams envisioned him as a nose tackle – a role Carriker was unsuited for.

Some of the league’s top 3-4 defensive ends have signed lucrative contracts in the past four years; Pittsburgh signed Brett Keisel for five years and $18.885 million in 2009, while Marcus Spears agreed to a five-year, $19.2 million deal to stay in Dallas last offseason and Houston wooed Antonio Smith from Arizona before the 2009 season with a five-year, $35.5 million deal.

Carriker does admit the progress he’s made with the Redskins makes him want to return. At the end of the season, for example, he found himself instinctually able to diagnose the play and rush the quarterback – something he didn’t believe he could do at the beginning of the year, let alone last season.

And the situation with Jenkins, he said, is no bother. Look at Pittsburgh, he said.

“They had Aaron Smith and the guy with the beard, [Keisel], and then they had a first-round pick [in 2009, Ziggy Hood] and they basically had that three-man rotation,” Carriker said. “If I stayed, I pretty much envision that’s what we’d do next year, the three of us.”

But would he stay in Washington to see if that happens?

“We’ll see what happens,” Carriker said. “We’ll see if they call. We’ll see if talks happen. I like it here. I’d like to stay here. We’ll see if it’s a fair deal. If not, I’ll test free agency and see what happens.”

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