REGINA — Chris Jones wasn't prepared to divulge specific reasons as to why he released two-time all-star wide receiver Duron Carter, but working out NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens wasn't one of them.
The head coach and general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders said Sunday that the team wanted to go in a different direction of Carter and that's what prompted the decision.
"It had nothing to do with it," Jones said of the correlation between Owens and Carter. "That's a discussion for another time. Let's give this its due and then move on from here, OK?"
The Roughriders (3-4) cut Carter on Saturday night, after putting Owens through some drills on Aug. 5 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Owens, 44, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day prior.
Jones said that the 27-year-old Carter is a dynamic individual who has a kind of unique set of qualities.
"We released a very good player who I think will end up, you know, he's going to land on his feet," Jones said.
Edmonton-based agent Jason Staroszik, who is handling Owens's CFL negotiations, declined comment when contacted by The Canadian Press on Saturday.
Carter was the Roughriders' top receiver in 2017 with a 1,043 yards and eight TDs, but he was shifted to cornerback in the second week of this season after Nick Marshall suffered a finger injury.
He was moved back to offence on Aug. 2 — a 26-19 loss to Edmonton — making three catches for 59 yards and one TD. In seven games this season, Carter had eight receptions for 111 yards and one touchdown.
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native tweeted earlier Sunday that he started getting calls from teammates on Saturday asking what happened.
"I eventually text coach Jones "What’s the deal? Why my teammates asking if I'm on the team?," the tweet said. "Get a call from him saying "thanks for your service on both sides."
Jones, whose team is on a bye week, said that he constantly evaluates his roster and made the decision around halftime of Saturday's Montreal-Ottawa CFL matchup.
"It didn't seem to surprise him when I had the conversation with him yesterday," Jones said.
The Roughriders' offence has struggled to gain momentum this season. They're last in the CFL in passing yards with 1,407 while they're tied with Montreal for last in passing TDs with five.
Quarterback Zach Collaros was hurt during Saskatchewan's Week 2 game in Ottawa. Neither Canadian Brandon Bridge or David Watford were able to solidify the No. 1 job with Collaros out. Collaros made his return from the injured list against the Eskimos.
Jones is no stranger to dismissing big-name receivers from his roster after cutting veterans Rob Bagg, Bakari Grant and Chad Owens following this spring's training camp.
Jones said that Caleb Holley would take Carter's place in the lineup.
"We do have a very young roster at the receiver position with the exception of Naaman (Roosevelt)," Jones said. "We have some very capable guys that we believe in."
Carter pleaded not guilty in June to a charge of possessing marijuana at the Saskatoon airport from last February and is scheduled to stand trial in December. He also received an absolute discharge in June after pleading guilty to a similar offence at Winnipeg's airport in November 2017.
Saskatchewan gave Owens a look after Edmonton released him from its negotiation list in July.
Owens last played in the NFL in 2010 and has been out of football since 2012. He's ranked second all-time in receiving yards (15,934) and third in receiving TDs (153). Owens was a five-time first-team All-Pro and a six-time Pro Bowler over 16 seasons with five teams.
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