Philadelphia Eagles: Please come home Jordan Matthews

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

With injuries once again piling up, the Philadelphia Eagles should bite the bullet and sign Jordan Matthews to a long-term deal once and for all.

I’m just going to say it: the NFL, and the Philadelphia Eagles specifically, have given Jordan Matthews a raw deal.

By far and away the team’s best selection in the 2014 NFL Draft – the now-infamous Marcus Smith draft – Matthew spent three wonderful seasons as the Eagles’ best-receiving option and really, it wasn’t even close.

Typically deployed out of the spot despite having deceptive 4.46 speed, the 6-foot-3, 215 pound Vanderbilt product put in work in midnight green, averaging 891 yards and six touchdowns over his first three season in the league under a varied collection of quarterbacks ranging from Nick Foles, to Mark Sanchez, to Sam Bradford, and finally Carson Wentz.

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That level of consistency despite such tumultuous conditions should be lauded.

And despite often being disregarded as a possession slot receiver, in 2015, Matthews came just three-yard short of becoming the Eagles’ first thousand-yard receiver since Jeremy Maclin the year prior.

In summation, Matthew seemed like the kind of player whose jersey one could confidently purchase knowing for a fact that he would still be on the team three, four, or even five years down the line – and for the most part, he was, at least until he wasn’t.

With a serious need at cornerback despite investing heavily in the position in the draft, a recently returned to power Howie Roseman traded Matthews and a third-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for still-starter Ronald Darby.

On one hand, this sort of deal happens all the time, and with free-agent acquisitions Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery locked in the outside, and Nelson Agholor‘s transition into the slot Matthew’s became a bit of an afterthought, but at the same time, the Bills only really made the deal because they needed a replacement for Sammy Watkins, not because of number 81’s impressive skill set.

After an ugly season of lows, Matthews was unceremoniously allowed to hit the open market, where he signed new subsequently waived by the New England Patriots over the course of a summer.

But just like Phillies fictitious hometown hero Rocky Balboa, you can’t keep Matthews down.

After a familiar string of injuries left the Eagles with receivers like Markus Wheaton and Kamar Aiken earning serious snaps, Matthews was brought back on a one-year deal, and unsurprisingly played very well.

Tasked with filling a ‘Sixth Man off the bench’-role if you will, Mathews hauled in 20 passes for 300 yards on 346 offensive snaps from his best friend Carson Wentz – averaging two targets on 24 snaps in 14 games with three starts.

And yet once again, maybe because of the emerge of Agholor as a similarly consistent, but more dynamic slot option, Matthews was allowed to walk in free agency and sign a deal with the San Francisco 49ers.

But despite the family pedigree (Jerry Rice is JM’s cousin), Matthews was still released in the Niners final trim down to 53, a decision that was apparently really hard decision for general manager John Lynch.

And here we are again; the Eagles are preparing for Week 3 with a depleted receiving corps and a workout for Mr. Matthews all but certainly on the horizon – but why?

Why did the Eagles need to workout Matthews yet again? Frankly, one could argue Matthews has been the team’s most consistent receiver of the last half-decade for crying out loud; he shouldn’t have to try out for the Birds year-after-year like he’s Greg Ward.

No, despite consistently trying to replace them with better options, Jordan Matthews has consistently found a way back to the Eagles because he’s a good fit in the team’s system. Sure, he may not be the biggest, fastest, or strongest receiver in the league, but Matthews has a connection with Wentz and regardless of what role he’s tasked with playing, be that on the outside or in the slot as either a starter or a reserve, he’s found ways to make plays and impact games in Philly’s favor.

With Agholor’s future in the City of Brotherly Love becoming less and less certain with each passing week, it’s entirely possible the team could be in the market for a new possession slot receiver for 2020 and beyond, a position Matthews excelled at over his first three seasons in the league.

It’s really not that hard.

Sure, the team has players like JJ Arcega-Whiteside and a surprisingly competent Mack Hollins waiting in the wings for expanded opportunities, but the duo both shade as outside options long-term. Really, outside of Agholor, the Eagles’ second-best slot option is probably the aforementioned Ward, who isn’t even on the active 53-man roster.

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To put it simply, the Philadelphia Eagles should not only sign Jordan Matthews in the lead up to their Week 3 bout against the Detroit Lions – to be honest he probably still has the playbook memorized – but they should give him a long-term deal to secure his future once and for all. While there will always be more attractive options, Matthews is a lot like Jonah Ryan from HBO’s Veep – you don’t get rid of Jonah Ryan.