Army edge rusher Andre Carter should be able to play in the NFL in 2023.
Carter is a potential first pick in the 2023 NFL draft, although last week a bill passed by Congress aimed to force him to complete his military draft before playing in the NFL. Had that bill become law, Carter would have either had to wait years to play in the NFL or pursue an NFL career and not graduate while paying back his West Point tuition.
But the omnibus spending bill proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday includes a provision that would allow Carter and any other athlete enrolled in West Point, the Navy, or the Air Force before June 1, 2021, to defer his or her military service. because of a professional sporting opportunity.
The provision in the bill is referred to as a “technical correction regarding the applicability of the agreement by a cadet or midshipman to practice professional sports that constitutes a violation of the agreement to serve as an officer.” It amends the bill passed a week ago to give Carter and every other athlete the chance to play professional sports right away.
Carter’s parents expressed their disappointment with the previous bill to ESPN on Friday.
“This is the thing that is so painful,” Melissa Carter told ESPN, before Gallagher made his statement indicating that he would seek a legacy exception that would apply to Carter and other current service academies athletes. “You guide your son to do the right things because it’s right. And it’s really disappointing that it hasn’t been reciprocated. This has been his goal since childhood, to get to the NFL. Every step of the way, that was on track until we saw this article. That’s the part that’s disappointing. It’s not surprising that so many people switch, sign out, or switch teams. When loyalty isn’t reciprocated, it stings.”
The professional sports future for military academy athletes has gone back and forth in recent years. A rule change in 2016 allowed Navy’s Keenan Reynolds to play right away with the Baltimore Ravens after being drafted in the fifth round. That change was repealed in 2017, and athletes then had to complete two years of military service before playing professionally.
Another rule change was made in 2019 that allowed athletes to delay their serve and play immediately. But last week’s rule change, proposed by Wisconsin Representative Mike Gallagher (R), was about to overhaul the 2019 change and throw Carter’s pro future into limbo.
Given the bipartisan effort behind Tuesday’s push in the bill, Carter should be set for an immediate NFL career. Carter emerged as a potential top pick of the NFL draft in 2021 with 14.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. He has seven tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in 10 games in 2022 as he has been a constant source of double teams.