Dallas Cowboys

LB Bruce Carter is the latest Cowboy to bolt in free agency

The Cowboys saw a linebacker depart via free agency for the second consecutive day Wednesday.

Bruce Carter reached an agreement with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team announced, a day after Justin Durant bolted to the Atlanta Falcons. Carter got a four-year, $20.5 million deal.

Carter, 27, had an up-and-down career with the Cowboys since joining the organization as a second-round pick out of North Carolina in 2011. Carter flashed signs of greatness at times, but also had lapses that left coaches scratching their heads.

But he played well down the stretch last season, earning the nickname as “the closer” from defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Carter finished the season with a team-high five interceptions, and was credited with 60 tackles by the coaches during the regular season. He had 19 tackles in the playoffs, including 12 in the season-ending loss to the Packers.

The Cowboys had interest in bringing Carter back for the right price, but his market value proved to be too high.

For his career with the Cowboys, Carter finished with 278 tackles, three sacks, 17 tackles for loss, 12 quarterback pressures and 15 passes defended.

The Cowboys entered the off-season with three linebackers -- Carter, Durant and Rolando McClain -- hitting free agency and hoped to keep at least two of them. However, now they’re down to trying to get McClain under contract for next season. Both sides have expressed an interest in making that happen, but it’s unknown how much progress has been made on that front.

But the Cowboys do have talent at the linebacker corps with Sean Lee set to return from injury, and the promise Anthony Hitchens showed last season as a rookie. They also have players such as Kyle Wilber and Cameron Lawrence under contract, and signed veteran linebacker Keith Rivers earlier this offseason to compete for a job.

Outside of Carter and Durant, the Cowboys have also seen offensive tackle Jermey Parnell and return specialist Dwayne Harris move on in free agency.

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @NFLCharean

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