Saints 2018 NFL Free Agency Target: Wide Receiver Jordan Matthews

Publish date:

If it wasn't for bad luck, then 4th year veteran NFL Free Agent and 25-year old wide receiver Jordan Matthews wouldn't have had any luck at all last year in 2017.

A former 1st team AP All-American and All-SEC selection at Vanderbilt University from 2010 thru 2013, Matthews was selected by Philadelphia in Round 2 (#42 overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft

During his first 3 seasons with the Eagles, Matthews averaged 75 catches for 891 yards per season (11.9 yards per reception), and caught a total of 19 touchdowns from 2014 thru 2016.

 Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

But then last year during the first week of the NFL Pre-Season on August 11th, 2017, Matthews' luck seemingly took a sudden turn for the worse.

He was part of a 3-team trade that started with the Buffalo Bills sending star wide receiver Sammy Watkins and a 6th-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for cornerback E.J. Gaines and a 2nd-round pick. Shortly after, the Bills dealt cornerback Ronald Darby to the Eagles for Matthews and a 3rd-round pick.

When all was said and done: two wide receivers (Watkins and Matthews) — from one of the most prolific WR draft classes in NFL history (the 2014 NFL Draft) — had swapped teams and cities.

Watkins would go on to help the Rams win 11 games as Los Angeles won the NFC West Division Championship. 

 Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

Matthews however, was unable to experience that same amount of success.

In his very first practice with Buffalo, Matthews suffered a chip fracture in his sternum. It caused him to forfeit most of what little time remained before the start of the 2017 regular season to develop chemistry with Bills QB Tyrod Taylor.

Matthews could never get on track and his production slowed, before he was eventually placed on injured reserve to end the season.

He finished the season with career lows in receiving yards (282) and touchdowns (one) while playing a total of (10) games.

 Photo courtesy of The Buffalo News

Photo courtesy of The Buffalo News

And although Buffalo still made the Playoffs as an AFC Wild Card at (9-7), Matthews couldn’t be part of it. 

But even worse: he was forced to sit by and watch while all of his friends and former teammates with the Eagles, went on to defeat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, as they won a World Championship ring without him.

Now just a few weeks removed from that bittersweet moment, Matthews enters 2018 NFL Free Agency looking to change his luck for the better; with the likelihood of signing elsewhere and playing for his 3rd team in less than a year looking pretty certain at this point.

Could NOLA and the Saints be the next landing the spot for Matthews?

 Photo courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer

Photo courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer

That all depends on whether potential suitors for his services will be paying for Matthews’ Philly production beforethe trade, or his injury-plagued Bills production afterwards

 Photo courtesy of Pro Football Reference

Photo courtesy of Pro Football Reference

What’s best about Matthews is that he’s still relatively young (he turns 26 in July), so his age won't have any effect on the current Saints youth movement.

But would he come at a cheap price (?), is the question that will have to be answered for Saints front office brass. Spotrac is currently projecting a four-year, $35.4 million deal for Matthews averaging $8.8 million per season.

One thing that's for certain: the 6-foot-3, 212 pound Huntsville, Alabama native still possesses plenty of enough talent to significantly impact the WR position for several more years at the NFL level.

Most Saints fans will recall that Matthews first broke onto the scene of the football world back as a junior in college during the 2012 season at Vanderbilt University in the SEC. Matthews was a first team All-SEC selection that season and finished with 94 receptions for 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns.

As a senior in 2013, Matthews was again a first-team All-SEC selection. He would also be named a first-team All-American by USA Today, Athlon, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, and the Associated Press. During the season, he set the all-time SEC record for receptions and receiving yards. Matthews also was a semi-finalist for the Biletnikoff Award and won the 2013 CFPA Elite Wide Receiver Trophy.

In his final college game, he was the MVP of the 2014 BBVA Compass Bowl after recording five receptions for 143 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the season with 112 receptions for 1,477 yards and seven touchdowns.

For his collegiate career, Matthews had 262 receptions for 3,759 yards, both marks serving as both SEC and school records. His 24 career touchdowns are also the best in Vanderbilt school history.

 Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

NFL scouts at that time said that Matthews has the prototypical body for a wide receiver; and that he was also a very polished receiver entering the NFL. They also said at the time that Matthews is sure-handed, runs good routes, is tough and is dangerous with the ball in his hands.

Additionally, Matthews showed the ability to make some impressive runs after the catch as well and they noted that he was excellent at moving the chains in the short to intermediate part of the field. And perhaps best of all where the Saints and head coach Sean Payton are concerned: Matthews also is a good blocker in the ground game.

His biggest weakness then, and now still 4 years later: a lack of speed.

Matthews isn't a threat to catch anything thrown very deep down the field, and that's not surprising given that he only ran a 4.46 40-yard dash back at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine although his recorded time was better than expected given his size.

Neither current Saints WR's Willie Snead or Brandon Coleman — either one of whom Matthews could potentially replace on the roster should he sign with New Orleans — are what you'd call "speed demons".

 Photo courtesy of The Buffalo News

Photo courtesy of The Buffalo News

But right now as a player 4 years removed from that 2014 Draft process, Matthews is a young man who still has the potential to be a solid complementary player.

He has tremendous "upside" and could be a solid No. 2 or slot receiver for the Saints next season and beyond.

But the question is: will the Saints pursue him?

In less than 3 more weeks from now, we'll see if Matthews decides to pursue some much better luck than what he had in 2017, with New Orleans in 2018.....