Eagles Free Agent Evaluation: Jordan Matthews

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Leading up to the start of free agency, Sports Talk Philly and Eagledelphia will be taking a look at the players on the Eagles roster who are scheduled to become free agents this offseason and how the team should look to handle each.

In this edition, we will be covering wide receiver Jordan Matthews.


It seems like so long ago that Jordan Matthews was traded away, but after signing with the Eagles midseason, the wideout has spent four of his five seasons in the league with the Birds.

Matthews, the cousin of NFL legend Jerry Rice, joined the Eagles as a second-round pick in 2014. He immediately became a much-respected member of the team due to his strong work ethic and his team-first mentality. Matthews was the first player to work with Nelson Agholor and give him the work ethic that allowed him to turn his career around. He was one of the first players to come out and say that Jalen Mills would be a great player in the league. Yet another example was his traveling to new franchise quarterback Carson Wentz’s home to build a brotherly bond and rapport during the offseason.

While Matthews started behind Jeremy Maclin, he became the team’s top receiver in just his second year. During the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Matthews kept receiving corps that were made up of players like the underwhelming Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham, Josh Huff, Riley Cooper, Paul Turner and Miles Austin from floundering. That was when Agholor was not even a serviceable receiver and the rest of those players haven’t had jobs in the league since their tenure with the Eagles. Considering he was the only option to throw to outside of the tight ends, it is amazing Matthews managed more than 800 yards in each of those seasons.

The Eagles had already begun playing preseason games last season when they shipped Matthews and a third-round pick off to the Bills in exchange for Ronald Darby. The move game the Eagles one of the final pieces they needed to win their first Super Bowl. Darby was a huge talent that would be under control for two seasons while Matthews was looking at a possible big-money extension at the end of the season. Instead, Matthews suffered a few injuries and rarely saw the field. He saw so little time and made so minimal an impact with the Bills that they let him walk following the season and JMatt took a camp invite from the Patriots. He may have made the roster, but an injury near the start of camp would have put him on IR and the Pats waived him.

When Carson Wentz returned this season, he had only one healthy receiver. Wentz’s old friend Matthews was brought in to alleviate Agholor early in the season. Despite very minor playing time, Matthews managed 20 catches for 300 yards during the regular season and seemed to make big plays to move the chains every time he got the ball. In the wild card round, he didn’t even need to get the ball to make the play as he forced Prince Amukamara into committing pass interference to set the Eagles up at the 10-yard line and set up what would be the first touchdown of the game. Matthews impact was astounding for the amount of snaps he played and he registered a career high catch rate.

2019 Positional Group

The only known receivers set to return to the Eagles are Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Beyond that, the team has Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, Marken Michel, Johnny Holton, Braxton Miller, Dorren Miller and Carlton Agudosi.

Out of all of those players, I think Jeffery is the only sure thing to make the team with Agholor closest behind him. The Eagles have Agholor on his fifth-year option from his rookie contract and he carries a $9 million cap hit. The team will look to sign Agholor to a new deal and get him under contract for an extended period of time with a lower cap hit. Mack Hollins has a shot at making the roster, but is nowhere near a lock after missing the entire 2018 season with a mysterious injury. Shelton Gibson spent the entirety of 2018 on the active roster and managed only one reception the entire season. He is likely gone unless he shows significant improvement.

Beyond that, the rest of the group are not likely to make the roster, but Braxton Miller and Marken Michel have experience in the NFL and CFL respectively. That previous performance with a strong camp could win either of the pair a spot on the active roster.

Expected Contract

Matthews was signed to a minimum deal halfway through the season. He may have a market, but he likely will not be guaranteed a roster spot anywhere he goes and, with players like Golden Tate, Devin Funchess, Randall Cobb, Adam Humphries, John Brown, Tavon Austin, Cole Beasley and Chris Hogan set to reach free agency and Antonio Brown on the trade market, teams willing to spend big on receivers have plenty of other options. I’d be shocked if Matthews were able to get anything that’s much more than a veteran minimum deal.


Matthews has a strong history both with the team and of a strong work ethic. He is the type of player that has the emotional intelligence the Eagles look for. He should be inexpensive, something that the Eagles will really need to look for if they plan to sign any other free agents this offseason. He has a great friendship and rapport with Wentz. Perhaps the only knocks against him are that he does miss time with injury and he is best in the slot – where Nelson Agholor plays. Still, if the Eagles can limit his snaps and use him to give Agholor rest every once in a while in addition to lining him up on the outside occasionally, Matthews can be an impact player at next to no cost. There is little reason not to bring Matthews back home again.

Decision: Re-Sign