The Philadelphia Eagles have a chance to right a wrong. To be clear, I was never a big fan of the Jordan Matthews trade, as Matthews was the Eagles’ best receiver in his two years with the team. However, business is business, and Howie Roseman did what he thought was right in order to bring a title to Philadelphia. The move allowed the Eagles to address a defensive concern with Ronald Darby and gave Matthews an opportunity to excel in Buffalo.
It’s safe to say that the pieces fell in place in favor of the Eagles, but not so much for Matthews. However, all is not lost. While the Eagles appear to be set at the receiver position, they could get better. Alshon Jeffrey is still the No. 1 receiver, followed by the surprising Nelson Aghlor. The issue facing the Eagles is what to do with Torrey Smith? That’s not to say Smith didn’t offer much, but imagine Matthews paired with Agholor, Jeffrey, and Zach Ertz in basically a four-receiver set.
One of the fears the Eagles had with Matthews was his contract. With Matthews set to become a free agent in 2018, according to Spotrac, the Eagles figured he might ask for a serious increase. Roseman saw a chance to get a 2018 draft pick along with Darby and took a gamble. Even so, Matthews could be a steal now if the Eagles wanted to explore a trip down memory lane. What the Bills will look at are the 25 catches for 282 yards in 10 games with only seven starts in 2017. While his production with the Buffalo Bills may cause a dip in his possible suitors, the Eagles can look at the big picture and attribute some of that to injuries and inconsistency at the quarterback position.
Smith is signed through 2020, but the Eagles have the option of letting him go this offseason or picking up the club option for $5 million. Maybe the Eagles have a backup plan for Smith’s departure with up-and-coming receiver Mack Hollins, but why not bring back a fan favorite who already has chemistry with Carson Wentz? The old saying is why fix what’s not broken, but why can’t the Eagles improve on what works?
For the 2017 season, three Eagles receivers (including Ertz) caught eight-plus touchdowns. Smith contributed only two but was the primary third receiver. By bringing back Matthews, he could give the offense an extra boost while causing nightmares for defensive coordinators.
Imagine a play where Wentz is in the shotgun, no running back, on the left side he has Aghlor and Ertz, and on the right he has Matthews, Jeffrey, and Hollins. The ball is snapped and all chaos breaks loose. Matthews is not as fast as Smith, but he has better hands and runs better routes. The Eagles’ offense is not predicated on speed, but precision. This is how they were able to beat the Vikings and Patriots. While most teams look for the home run threat, the Eagles are loaded with possession receivers who take up chunks of yardage with each catch.
Matthews will fit right in place with this bunch. During his time in Philadelphia, Matthews averaged 11.9 yards per reception, which would have placed him right on the Eagles’ average for their receivers. What’s best about Matthews is that he’s still young (25), which will not put a blemish on the Eagles youth movement. And he can come at a cheap price. For a player like Matthews, the Eagles Super Bowl LII victory had to be bittersweet. He’s happy his friends won, but he was there at the beginning, fighting through the struggles. It’s up to Howie Rosemann to make this happen and bring back one of the favorites.