As you all may have heard me say before, I am not entirely sold on this revamped receiving core going forward. The Eagles certainly upgraded a position of emphasis, but failed to give it the stability it needed to move forward with their franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz. Looking ahead to 2017, Howie Roseman has put the team in a spot where they will play the entire season under numerous questions while being surrounded by an aura of uncertainty.
I understand that everyone was ready to give Roseman the next Rocky statue on Broad Street, but reality is that Nelson Agholor could be the last receiver standing at the end of the year. If so, what does that do for the team? What happens in 2018?
This all brings me to the elephant in the room that seems to be Jordan Matthews. In one of the most heavily talented wide receiver drafts the NFL has ever seen, the Eagles drafted the Vanderbilt standout in the second round of the 2014 draft in the hopes of finding their franchise receiver. Jordan was heralded as the nephew of the great Jerry Rice and a player who uses respect and reverence to bring his skills to the forefront. His professionalism, study of the game, and natural ability were enough for the fans of Philadelphia to fall in love with him before he caught his first pass. After making that first connection, he would add 224 more to go with 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns over his first three years. These aren’t lackluster numbers by any means and actually place him 11th on the all-time in receptions by a player in his first three years. Not a bad start to an NFL career I would say, not bad at all.
Even as his numbers paint a pretty picture, the one notion of concern continues to be his number of drops on clean passes. There have been countless times when the team needed a big third down conversion or an easy score and Matthews watched as the perfect dart was thrown his way, but essentially fell off the board. Has it happened to the frequency that you hear in the local news or is it mildly overrated because we see his every move? I decided to dig a little bit and, courtesy of Pro Football Reference, was able to get some numbers that may have us thinking a little different.
- Three year average: 75 catches, 891 yards.
- Year-by-year drop totals: 2014 (6); 2015 (5); 2016 (6).
- 5.6 drops per year + 346 targets = 5% off his passes were dropped (courtesy of my analytics guy).
- Catch % since 2014 is 65%, which ranks him 18th in the NFL.
- Catch % in 2016 was 62.4%; Odell Beckham, Jr.’s 59.8%; Mike Evans’ 55.5%.
Looking at the numbers above, do you still feel the same token of negativity towards Matthews? Is dropping 5% of your passes a means for release?
The other part of this equation is the contractual terms and monetary value of his next deal. He is slated to hit free agency at the conclusion of this season as long as the Eagles do not extend him. He will look to garner a number of 5-7 million dollars a year with about 12-16 guaranteed. Is this something you would be willing to do?
Looking at this situation as a whole, Matthews will most likely never live up to the expectations of Philadelphia. However, he is another early draft pick that would be walking away if we don’t resign him. His best year was in the slot, which is a position he is slated to play this year. If he has an 80+ catch year his number will most likely go up. This will be a very interesting situation that will play itself out this season. In my opinion, I think he is better than perceived. If you were able to get him for a number that is around or slightly higher than that of Torrey Smith (after incentives, 5-6 million per) I would re-sign him for the future. He has a good rapport with Wentz, as evident with their unique touchdown celebration and still can prove to be a capable receiver in this offense.
Do you agree? What’s your take?
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For fantasy purposes, all my articles are predicated upon a PPR-based system.