DAVIS: Carter wasn’t worth the trouble or money anymore for Riders

In the end the Saskatchewan Roughriders decided Duron Carter simply wasn’t worth it.

Wasn’t worth the trouble and wasn’t worth the money.

A petulant, pouty, me-first player capable of making game-breaking plays on offence or defence, Carter was cut by the Roughriders during their CFL bye week without any real explanation coming from head coach/general manager/vice-president of football operations Chris Jones.

During a short media conference Sunday at Mosaic Stadium, Jones told reporters “it wasn’t any one particular deal” and “we’re not here to put anybody on trial” and the team is going in “a different direction than Duron.” Jones said the decision wasn’t based on Carter’s on-field performance.

Jones also refused to discuss Terrell Owens, a Hall of Fame receiver who had a free-agent workout last week with the head coach, and said there was no linking the two events. There was speculation the Roughriders were clearing room under their salary cap for Owens, but it’s more likely Carter’s contract (worth $175,000, according to 3DownNation’s Justin Dunk) was being purged because the Roughriders activated quarterback Zach Collaros, their highest-paid player, early from the six-game injury list and now have to account for his entire stipend.

Anyone surprised by Carter’s release clearly hasn’t been paying attention.

Amid reports that he fights with teammates and misbehaves on team flights, Carter was twice charged in the off-season with marijuana possession. On-field he is prone to taking undisciplined penalties, whining whenever the offence neglects him and loafing through plays where he isn’t the primary target.

Asked to switch to defence as a replacement for injured cornerback Nick Marshall, Carter had some struggles interspersed with big plays before returning to offence, as a slotback instead of a wideout, and admittedly took offside penalties before complaining that he and fellow receiver Naaman Roosevelt weren’t happy with the play calling of offensive co-ordinator Stephen McAdoo.

Carter, to his credit, never shied away from media interviews or mingling with football fans. His omnipresent smile and willingness to interact — including a night last season when he invited Roughriders supporters to attend a movie at his expense — made him a fan favourite. Throughout 2017, Jones met daily with Carter in an attempt to keep him focused. It worked well, but believing Carter had gained some much-needed maturity, those meetings were discontinued this season.

Everything was still all about Duron Carter. When a team is winning it can hide lots of things, like split dressing rooms and big egos, but the Roughriders are on a two-game losing streak. They’ve fallen to 3-4 and are tied with the B.C. Lions for last place in the West. The players need to be united behind their coaches and their philosophies.

Football teams regularly dispatch popular players. As in Carter’s case, the majority of Saskatchewan’s fans rail against the moves.

Since arriving in 2016 Jones has rebuilt the Roughriders’ roster and severed ties with John Chick, Weston Dressler and Darian Durant. Before this campaign they cut veteran players Rob Bagg, Pete Dyakowski, Chad Owens and Bakari Grant, with the assumption that somebody else would fill the leadership void. Any team expecting leadership from Carter, whose immaturity has been as much a highlight of his five-year CFL career as his leaping catches and exhilarating touchdowns, is going to be disappointed.

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