Just days after trading Brandin Cooks to the LA Rams, the Patriots filled a spot on the depth chart by signing wide receiver Jordan Matthews. The Patriots signed Matthews to a one year deal for a currently undisclosed amount of money that will likely hover around the league minimum.
The former Philadelphia Eagle and Buffalo Bill is entering his fifth year in the league after being drafted in the second round by the Eagles in the 2014 NFL Draft. He had three solid years in Philadelphia before being traded to the Bills last offseason. He had a disappointing campaign in Buffalo that was marred by injuries that cut his season to just 10 games.
Matthews is a big receiver, standing 6’3 and weighing 212 lbs. He has strong hands and great straight-line speed. He also runs solid routes, with a big first step out of his cuts that helps create separation between himself and defenders. Matthews is not particularly elusive in the open field, but he makes up for that as a strong runner with an impressive ability to shed arm tackles. He has also shown the ability to play both the slot and outside the numbers thanks to his time in a complicated Eagles offense, which should allow him to pick up New England’s offense with more ease than most.
Matthews has never blown anyone away with his production and has never proven himself to be a true number one receiver in the NFL. However, he is undeniably talented and has put up solid numbers. He averaged 75 receptions and nearly 900 receiving yards during his time in Philadelphia. He also hauled in eight touchdown receptions in both of his first two seasons. 2017 was certainly a down year for Matthews as he battled injuries throughout the season and only played in a total of 10 games. However, it is also important to point out that Buffalo had the worst passing offense in the league, which means that it is unlikely that Matthews would have been entirely successful even if he had been at full strength.
This is an extremely low risk, high reward situation for New England. They currently have a high number of receivers on the roster, some of whom will have to be cut (likely Kenny Britt). Matthews is a young receiver who has shown clear talent in the past. If he can come back strong from his injuries, then he could make a serious impact for the Patriots next year. This is similar to the Patriots signing of Brandon Lafell in 2014. Lafell has always been a decent second or third receiver, averaging around 40 catches and 600 yards per year. In his one productive year in New England, Lafell caught 75 balls for nearly 1000 yards.
Matthews is a much younger and more talented receiver than Lafell was. He has the potential to be a 1000+ yard receiver if he can acclimate himself to the Patriots system. This year is also crucial for him because if he has a breakout year for the Patriots then he will draw interest from teams around the league and will likely be able to snag a solid contract next season.
The risk is minimal for the Patriots. Should Matthews not work out and the Pats choose to cut him, then they will have spent little time or money on him. This isn’t a direct replacement of Brandin Cooks, but it certainly adds youth and talent to the Patriots depleted receiving corps.
Until next time – B$