Chris Jones has set his sights on one of the league’s top pending free agents.
On Thursday night, Jones plans to meet with receiver Duron Carter, a 2017 CFL all-star who 73 catches for a team-high 1,043 yards and eight TDs while adding a 43-yard interception return TD in a start at defensive back.
“I saw him down in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the other day and I’m going to have dinner with him (Thursday night) and should have a better understanding about where he is mentally,” Jones said via telephone Wednesday from the CFL president and GM meetings in Banff, Alta. “We’re certainly hoping we get him back.”
Jones said Carter – who spent the 2015 season on the Indianapolis Colts’ practice roster – garnered NFL interest from two teams this off-season but turned down opportunities with both the Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens.
“We’ll see exactly what his plans are and where he’s going,” Jones said.
Carter anchored a solid Riders receiving corps that included Naaman Roosevelt (75 catches, 1,035 yards, eight TDs) and Bakari Grant (84 catches, 1,033 yards, five TDs). His return would certainly benefit Saskatchewan’s offence but Jones said he’d also use Carter on defence if he returned to Regina.
“I would definitely use him on both sides of the football,” Jones said. “And if we needed him to be the full-time (kick) returner he could do it.
“He’s a tremendous talent. He’s a top-five talent that I’ve seen in my time in this league.”
But the athletic six-foot-five, 205-pound Carter can also be a polarizing figure.
In November before the East final, Carter paid $351 to take 26 Riders fans to a movie. Roughly five months earlier after making an acrobatic one-handed TD catch against the Toronto Argonauts, Carter gave the ball to a young cancer survivor.
However, in 2016, he was suspended for one game by the CFL for bumping Ottawa coach Rick Campbell. Later that year, the Montreal Alouettes released Carter and his cousin Kenny Stafford, a fellow receiver with the team, following an incident with quarterback Rakeem Cato.
Jones is fine with Carter expressing his opinions. After all, Jones has won four Grey Cups with strong-minded players over his CFL tenure.
“He’ll challenge you,” Jones said of Carter. “We’ve had a bunch of them in the past (like) Marcus Ball, Brandon Browner, Dwight Anderson, Odell Willis and you can keep going.
“We’ve had guys who’ve had opinions and opinions aren’t necessarily bad. He played very good football for us this year and like I say, we have to coach him.”