Duron Carter failed to establish himself last season with the Indianapolis Colts, but was among the Canadian Football League’s most-spectacular receivers during two seasons with Montreal. And now it appears his return to the Als is imminent.
Two sources have told the Montreal Gazette the 6-foot-5, 205-pound receiver has agreed to terms with the Als, the contract potentially making the Florida native the CFL’s highest-paid player at his position.
“There is a … yes. I don’t know the timing, but you’re on to something,” said a source close to the player. “I know he’s excited about potentially coming. He looks at his opportunity — and this is one he couldn’t turn down.
“I’m sure it will go well with Duron in Montreal. He’s excited. He loves the ownership and, of course, coach Jim Popp. The ownership there and the kind of commitment they were making to him. And he really liked Montreal.”
Popp replaced the fired Tom Higgins as the Als’ head coach last August, following a victory at British Columbia. Montreal’s record was 3-5 at the time. Although the Als only went 6-12, finishing last in the East Division and missing the playoffs for the first time since returning to the league in 1996, the organization announced Popp would remain the team’s head coach.
That had a lot to do with Carter’s return, according to the source.
Carter, who doesn’t turn 25 until March 22, produced 1,939 yards for the Als over two seasons and 12 touchdowns. In 2014, his final year, he had a team-leading 75 receptions for 1,030 yards, along with seven touchdowns. He was the league’s third-leading receiver.
But it was clear he was destined for the NFL last winter. The Colts, along with Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Carolina, San Francisco, Cleveland and Tennessee were the teams that either worked Carter out or expressed some interest in signing him. Early last February, he ultimately signed with Indianapolis, agreeing to a three-year, $1.575-million contract. But only $25,000 of that total was guaranteed and he didn’t receive a signing bonus.
The Colts ultimately signed veteran receiver Andre Johnson as a free agent, then drafted another receiver in the first round. Carter spent the entire season on the practice roster, becoming a free agent on Jan. 12, when the organization failed to offer him a future contract to remain on the team’s practice squad.
Although Carter, understandably, was coveted by numerous CFL teams, there was some thought he would exhaust any and all potential NFL avenues before returning north, ultimately not deciding his next move before May at the earliest. So the timing of this quick decision must be considered surprising.
“I think he just wants to play football,” said the source. “He wants to play football and loves to play. Duron’s life is not based on whether he plays in the NFL.
“What Duron wants to do professionally is totally up to him. What’s wrong with playing in Canada? You act like you’re in a third-world country. There’s great opportunities in Canada and the CFL for guys who want to play professional football.”
While there’s no denying Carter’s talent, his lack of maturity, attitude and work ethic have previously been questioned. He’ll have to work diligently to prove his behaviour has changed and that he’ll be accepted readily in the dressing room. Having Popp on the sideline for every game should help, along with the presence of veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn, acquired from Saskatchewan in a late-season trade.
It’s believed Edmonton’s Adarius Bowman is the CFL’s highest-paid receiver, at $250,000 annually. But when S.J. Green signed a three-year extension with the Als last January, the Montreal Gazette reported he, too, would be paid in the vicinity of $250,000.
How long Carter’s willing to re-commit to Montreal remains to be determined. He’s young enough to potentially take another crack south of the border.
“I don’t think he’ll take away his NFL options. I don’t think he’s given up on playing in the NFL,” the source said.
(Herb Zurkowsky-Montreal Gazette)