MINNEAPOLIS -- There was always going to be something about Duron Carter's visit to Minnesota that felt a little different than any other visit the Canadian Football League star took this winter. He would return to the same practice facility in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, that he ran around as a kid. He would see some of the same faces on Friday that he remembered from when his father, Cris, was finishing his Hall of Fame career with the Vikings. In many ways, it would feel like a homecoming.
But now, there's a good chance the younger Carter's Friday workout in Minnesota could be the beginning of his own story with the Vikings.
Duron Carter said the Vikings are his top choice after his meeting and workout with the team, and while the CFL All-Star can't sign with a team until Feb. 10, it seems like a distinct possibility he'll follow his father's footsteps with the Vikings. The 23-year-old still could visit the Carolina Panthers next week (depending on the team's playoff schedule), as well as the Cleveland Browns. He has also talked with the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers about visiting. But at the moment, Carter said, the Vikings and Indianapolis Colts are the front-runners for his services.
Carter, who went through a rookie minicamp tryout with the Vikings in 2013, has stayed in touch with receivers coach George Stewart and many of the team's receivers since then. On Friday, he worked out for the Vikings' front office and coaching staff, with everyone from general manager Rick Spielman to head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner in attendance.
"Nobody missed it -- from the GM all the way down," Carter said.
After catching 75 passes for 1,030 yards and seven touchdowns for the Montreal Alouettes this season, Carter has earned significant NFL interest this winter. It's believed he could fetch a signing bonus in the neighborhood of $100,000 on a three-year deal -- for comparison's sake, the Vikings gave former CFL receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux a $75,000 signing bonus in 2011 -- and if Carter lands in Minnesota, he could get a chance to compete for playing time on a team still trying to figure out what it has at receiver.
"It felt like being back home," Duron Carter said. "I used to run around that facility when I was little. It still hasn’t changed -- I remember some of the cooking people, I still remember where everything is. When I was in for the rookie minicamp, it felt really overwhelming. But this was completely different from the minicamp, from the standpoint of them wanting me and pursuing me. It felt a lot better."