The Patriots started the 2018 season with a shaky depth chart at wide receiver, and on Wednesday they parted ways with one of their veteran free agent signings. Former second round pick Jordan Matthews, who has been dealing with an injury in the first week of training camp, has been released.
Matthews, who had spent the previous season in Buffalo, left Sunday’s practice with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. NFL reporter Ian Rappaport went deeper on Wednesday, revealing that Matthews may be dealing with “a significant hamstring injury.”
It’s a tough blow for Matthews, who had a chance for a big season in his first year in New England. The Patriots are missing several weapons from last season including deep threat Brandin Cooks, and top target Julian Edelman will miss the start of the season with a suspension. That meant more opportunities for Matthews, who scored 16 touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons before injuries slowed him down in 2016 and 2017.
The Patriots are usually lacking at the receiver position, but this year could prove especially problematic. Matthews, along with Kenny Britt, were the veterans brought in to shore up the group. But Britt is starting the season on the PUP list, and Pats veteran Malcolm Mitchell is day-to-day with an injury after not playing a snap in 2017. If the season started today, the Patriots starting wide receiver corps could be Chris Hogan, former Colt Phillip Dorsett, and University of Miami rookie Braxton Berrios.
Once the injury was revealed to be serious, the Patriots immediately hit the free agent market. Eric Decker, most recently of the Tennessee Titans, was the first name to be brought in for a workout. Decker has previously worked out for the Patriots, and caught six passes for 85 yards when the Titans and Pats met in the AFC Divisional playoffs.
As the preseason gets underway, there isn’t much talent floating out there for New England to bring in. The most obvious name would be Dez Bryant, but the Patriots don’t appear to be that desperate yet. Other free agents available include former Raven Jeremy Maclin, Dontrelle Inman, and Louis Murphy.