When the Saskatchewan Roughriders re-signed receiver Duran Carter, they didn’t just lock up one of the league’s most dynamic receivers and trash talkers: they also got themselves a bargain.
Carter’s contract numbers, as reported by 3DownNation’s Justin Dunk, have him earning $175,000 in 2018. That includes $144,000 in ‘hard money’ –a $70,000 signing bonus, $74,000 in base salary – and $31,000 in playtime bonuses.
When you compare those dollar figures to what some of his contemporaries are making, Carter looks like a steal.
The Edmonton Eskimo’s Adarius Bowman reportedly earned $260,000 last year and is scheduled to make $265,000 this year (though he has a bonus due in February and may be released or forced to renegotiate.)
Bowman has cracked the 1,000-yard plateau three times over his six seasons with Edmonton and had a club-record 120 catches for a league-high 1,759 yards and nine TDs in 2016 before he signed his lucrative extension.
But in the first year of that new deal, Bowman had 45 catches for 534 yards and five TDs over 12 regular-season games before adding five receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns in two playoff contests.
Carter, meanwhile, has never had less than 900 yards in four CFL seasons and was tenth in the CFL with 1,043 yards last season.
He also brings potential value as a defensive back and a return man, having made contributions in those roles last season
Two other big-name guys who signed lucrative deals last off-season are also higher on the pay grid than Carter.
Ottawa’s Greg Ellingson signed a two-year deal worth a reported $210,000 to stay with the Redblacks while Ernest Jackson inked a two-year contract worth $220,000 annually to go from Ottawa to Montreal. Ellingson finished with 1,459 yards last season while Jackson struggled with the Alouettes, registering just 767 yards.
Still, the sweet spot for top-end receivers has typically been in the $200,000 to $225,000 range per season and Carter’s deal falls well short of that.
It would have been interesting to see what Carter would have received on the open market. Unlike last season when there were a number of quality free agent receivers poised to hit free agency, the market is set to be a lot thinner this time around.
Toronto’s S.J. Green is probably the biggest name but he’s made it clear he’ll try and stay in Toronto. Diontae Spencer had good all-purpose numbers in Ottawa while Luke Tasker is a dependable 1,000-yard guy who doesn’t have the game-breaking ability Carter has consistently shown. DaVaris Daniels and Vidal Hazelton have yet to show they can be bona-fide No. 1 receivers.
That said, it seems clear that Saskatchewan is the ideal place for Carter and he may have been willing to take a little less to stay there. Head coach Chris Jones has developed a rapport with a player who clearly requires a little extra attention and maintenance, acknowledging there have been and will be “bumps in the road.”
Not every team would have been willing to take on Carter, despite his obvious talents: it’s hard to see him in more controlled environments like Toronto and Calgary while teams like B.C. and Edmonton have already invested in their big-play guys.
Regardless, the Riders have now put themselves in an enviable position. Not only have they locked up Carter on a team-friendly deal but they were able to get quarterback Zach Collaros to agree to a restructured deal that will be a bargain if he returns to his MOP-calibre form of 2015. Also getting Brandon Bridge under contract means Saskatchewan has two quarterbacks who have proven they can win games.
The other thing about Carter: he’s one of the most interesting and dynamic personalities in the CFL right now, a perpetually entertaining on-field and social media trash talker.
But he likely threw that in for free.