- Free Agency
REGINA — It turns out there was a boiling point after all when it came to Duron Carter and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
That point was reached Saturday night, when the team announced that after a season and a half, Carter will no longer be wearing green and white.
Carter’s sudden release took the Canadian Football League by storm, but for CFL.ca’s Jamie Nye, it comes as no surprise that the Riders have chosen to part ways with their most prolific star.
“There seems to be a time for Duron Carter when he reaches his best before date, and it’s not on the field so much as some of the stuff that goes on off the field,” said Nye shortly after the trade.
Nye cited off-season criminal charges along with a lack of effort, both in games and in practices, as possible reasons the Riders decided enough was enough.
“You watch him in practice, as I do, and you see an effort level that doesn’t match some of the other players,” said Nye. “Sometimes there are plays [in the game] where you know it’s a run play because he’s on the outside and he’s barely making an effort to go to the line of scrimmage because he knows what’s coming.
“It all adds up with Duron as to why Chris Jones would make this move and I wasn’t surprised at all that he had been released because of all those things I just said.”
The Riders are 3-4 this season, tied for last in the West, and have so far failed to deliver on high expectations in the wake of a 10-win season in 2017 that saw them come within a couple of plays of reaching the 105th Grey Cup.
From injuries to inconsistent quarterback play, there have been plenty of theories behind the Riders’ slow start this season. But while Carter doesn’t deserve much of the blame, Nye suggests a culture change may have been needed.
“There’s a point in time where the team’s going to have to figure out — and I think the Roughriders are in that position — who they have and who they want going forward to get this offence out of a little bit of a slump,” said Nye.
“Clearly they don’t need someone who’s going to complain about targets. They need players who are out there giving it their all.”
In 2018, while spending most of his time playing corner, Carter compiled 111 receiving yards and a touchdown on eight receptions, including a 41-yard score last week in his return to the Riders’ offence. Last season, his first with the Riders, Carter piled up 1,043 yards on 73 receptions while scoring eight touchdowns.
In his three years managing the club, Jones, the team’s head coach and general manager, has made plenty of bold moves, first catching the ire of Riders fans when he released Weston Dressler and John Chick in 2016, then again in subsequent years when he cut ties with Darian Durant, Bakari Grant and Rob Bagg, among others.
While Carter is considered one of the CFL’s most polarizing figures, he was beloved by Rider Nation. Nye says Saturday’s move will resonate similarly with Riders fans.
“The one thing that I really appreciated in Duron Carter was the time he spent with young fans signing autographs, taking pictures, just going above and beyond to engage with the fans,” said Nye. “That was an endearing thing that fans really attached to Duron Carter and really appreciated.”
Among Carter’s many highlights in Riderville was when he took a large group of Riders fans to see a movie before the team’s playoff game in Toronto in 2017.
“The fans loved Duron Carter,” Nye added. “I liked it too, watching it, because I think the stars of the league need to do that stuff.”
The Riders will move forward in Carter’s absence, with Naaman Roosevelt leading an otherwise-young receiving corps that boasts veteran Caleb Holley and other emerging talents in Jordan Williams-Lambert and Shaquelle Evans.
Carter, meanwhile, will look to catch on with a different team, possibly the third CFL team in his career after stops in Montreal and Regina.
Nye says he anticipates Carter won’t take long to land on his feet — but that the enigmatic receiver won’t be changing his tune.
In other words, teams know exactly what they’re getting with Duron Carter and shouldn’t expect anything different.
“Duron’s Duron,” said Nye. “I don’t know if there’s ever going to be a ‘lightbulb’ moment for him. He’s settled on that. He likes being the way he is. You have to be confident in yourself and there’s something to look at and say ‘hey, cool’, he’s willing to be him even though there are some consequences that may go along with that.
“He’s quite happy living his life the way he’s lived it up until now.”
Coming off their Week 9 bye, the Riders are back on the field on Aug. 19 when they host the undefeated Calgary Stampeders.