“Sweet forgiveness, a gift that’s always stronger than the sin“.
Since being selected by the Miami Dolphins’ in the seventh-round of the 2012 draft, 26-year old receiver Rishard Matthews has seen both the highs and lows that the National Football League has to offer for a late-round prospect.
Matthews (6-foot-1, 217 lbs) career started slow in Miami with him appearing in only 36 games (six starts) in his first 3 seasons. While the former Wolf Pack star showed flashes of his strong ability to separate from defenders and catch in high traffic areas, his lackluster route running and sluggishness off the line inevitably buried Matthews within the Dolphins’ deep depth chart of receivers.
2012 Stats: 19 receptions, 151 yards, 0 Tds
Receiver Core: Brian Hartline, Davone Bess , Clyde Gates
2013 Stats: 41 receptions, 448 yards, 2 Tds
Receiver Core: Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson.
After his strong finish in 2013 (Matthews replaced the injured Brandon Gibson in week 11) it seemed the former 227 pick from Nevada had finally proven to the Miami Dolphins he was deserving of a higher snap count.
“I feel like, in my mind, I’ve been a starter since I came in my second year and filled in after Brandon went down” – Rishard Matthews
Boy was Matthews ever wrong.
2014 hit the young receiver harder than Calvin Pryor. From the explosive emergence of 2nd-round LSU star Jarvis Landry to Matthews’ late-to-practice fines, a two game disciplinary suspension, and his overall rocky relationship with head coach Joe Philbin, Matthews became the black sheep of the Miami Dolphins, and his numbers in 2014 drastically plummeted due to this. 2014 ended up being the worst season of Rishard Matthews career.
“Trust me, we’ve had some knock-down, drag-outs over the years,” coach Joe Philbin stated in early 2015 “I think there’s a healthy respect between the two of us. We’ve banged heads, there’s no hiding that.”
Rishard Matthews frustration with the organization’s offseason moves would grow to an all-time boiling point, when the Dolphins selected Louisville receiver DeVante Parker in the 2015 draft, placing Matthews 5th on the depth chart.
“It’s funny how people claim to want to do right by you,” tweeted Matthews . “In the end it’s all just talk.”
Ultimately, Matthews would end up skipping a chunk of offseason workouts and asking for the Dolphins to trade him. Matthews desperately seeked a team who would utilize him more, but Matthews trade demands were not met. Just as all seemed lost for Rishard Matthews the unthinkable happened. Rookie DeVante Parker elected to have surgery on his foot, and due to Matthews strong offseason the 3rd year player would be placed in Miami’s starting WR1 position .
Rishard flourished in the 2015 season before fracturing his ribs in week 11. The receiver finished the season ranking 31st in all receivers, pulling-in 43 receptions for 662 yards and 4 touchdowns.
With the offseason looming and Matthews preparing to become a free agent, the question still remains:
Is Rishard Matthews worth saving?
As recently reported by The Phinsider, it seems Matthews will command around $5-6 million per season, which is relatively cheap for a player of his caliber and performance in the previous season.
Let’s looks at 3 players in the $5-6 million price range and see how they compare to Matthews.
Rishard Matthews Predicted Value: 4 years, $17-21 million
|Name||Est 2016 Cap Hit||2015 Recs||2015 Yards||2015 TDs|
|Rishard Matthews||$5-6 million||41||662||4|
|Marvin Jones||$6 million||65||816||4|
|Mike Wallace||$9.9 million||39||473||2|
|Pierre Garcon||$9.7 million||72||777||6|
Looking at the statistics above, it’s no secret Rishard Matthews will be among the most desired WR Free-Agents this offseason. The Dolphins currently sit around $7.4 million in available cap space, and with glaring weaknesses on defense, the Dolphins must spend wisely.
At first glance it may seem foolish for Miami to address the position they currently are deepest in, but with a quick trimming of the excess fat on the Dolphins offensive depth chart (cutting players like Greg Jennings & Matt Hazel and restructing Jordan Cameron) the Dolphins should easily be able to afford Matthews utilizing him as a true WR2, who already has an excellent connection with a struggling quarterback under a rookie Head Coach.
Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills can be on contract for under 12-million in 2016, using the 2016 offseason to decide upon Kenny Stills, who becomes a unrestricted free-agent in 2017.
So, is Rishard Matthews worth saving?