It was a meal with head coach Chris Jones that closed the deal for Duron Carter.
The superstar receiver is coming back to the Saskatchewan Roughriders after signing a one-year deal on Monday but it was a chat with Jones that sealed it.
“We had a good dinner, Duron and I are close,” Jones said. “I got to explain what we’re trying to do and get accomplished and he wanted to be a part of it.”
Carter acknowledged that Jones’ presence in Saskatchewan played a big factor in his decision.
“Not a lot of head coaches reach out to their players they keep that player-coach hierarchy. Coach Jones is different he talks to all of us as if he’s one of the players,” Carter said.
“He’s in the locker room all the time talking to us and joking with us. You wouldn’t believe about some of his favourite songs if I told you, he’s really one of us. I appreciate it and meeting with him every day gave his vibe to me and my vibe to him so we could parlay that. At the end of the season, we were really connecting.”
The Riders head man believes Carter would’ve commanded more money on the open free agent market. But Carter didn’t see just dollar signs.
“Where would I want to go? Saskatchewan has everything I need to be successful in football. That’s where I want to be,” Carter said. “I don’t particularly see anywhere else in the CFL where I’d want to be.”
Carter led the Riders in 2017 with 1,043 receiving yards and nine touchdowns (including one on defence), earning him the Riders Most Outstanding Player award. Kevin Glenn threw many of those passes to Carter and in 2018 the man pulling the trigger in all likelihood will be Zach Collaros who Saskatchewan traded for earlier in January.
“Collaros beat me plenty of times when I was in Montreal, twice in the playoffs. I sorta had some bad blood against him in a sense,” Carter explained.
“To see him out there running around and be throwing the ball to me, it definitely puts a smile on your face. It sorta gives us a heads up, look out for us this season because that was one of our struggles protecting the quarterback and quarterback mobility.”
The 26-year-old came to Saskatchewan with a bad boy reputation, but the Riders have embraced the enigmatic playmaker for who he is.
“He’s a dynamic character. He’s got a large personality. It’s Duron Carter so it’s never going to be just smooth sailing,” Jones said. “There’s going to be bumps in the road next year, they’ll be bumps in the road for he and I. If everybody just realizes that it’s not going to be a perfect world.”
For his part, Carter seems to have finally found a home in Saskatchewan – at least for now.
“Since that first contract, I was just hoping to make it through the first game. Getting all the way through the year, there was a whole bunch of ups and downs. I just felt like it was definitely written that I’m supposed to be part of Saskatchewan,” Carter said.
“For me, I like to take it year-by-year, game-by-game. No telling what’s going to happen with me.”