By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — This offseason, the Patriots lost Danny Amendola, who made a lot of money on the free-agent market. In his place, they’ve now signed a much younger player, likely at a much lower price.
The Patriots reportedly agreed to terms with Jordan Matthews on a one-year deal, according to Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport. The dollar amount was not immediately reported, but considering Matthews is coming off a 282-yard season, it’s unlikely that the receiver broke the bank.
Matthews, 25, was drafted in the top half of the second round of the 2014 draft, at No. 42 overall. He recorded three very productive seasons with Philadelphia before being traded to Buffalo, where he battled injury and turned in career lows across the board.
In that sense, it’s the ideal Bill Belichick signing, one where the Patriots’ head coach buys low and maximizes the value of a talented player. And though the numbers last year state otherwise, Matthews is clearly talented.
As Pro Football Focus shared on Thursday, no slot receiver in the NFL has more yards since Matthews entered the league in 2014.
The fact that Matthews still holds that lead despite such a down year in 2017 speaks to just how productive he was in his three years with the Eagles. From 2014-16, he steadily averaged 75 receptions and 891 yards. He also caught eight touchdowns in both his rookie season and his second season, before catching three touchdowns in 2016.
While replacing Amendola’s sense of the big moment might prove to be a challenge, the Patriots have clearly made this move with the intention to replace Amendola’s production.
If Matthews is healthy and makes the team, he figures to be a solid fit in the slot in a wide receiver corps that includes Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kenny Britt.
Matthews joins a somewhat long list of former Bills who became Patriots. Some have worked out very well (Chris Hogan, Stephon Gilmore), some have produced mixed results (Mike Gillislee, Eric Lee), and some have not worked out (Scott Chandler).
Matthews is no sure thing. But if he’s healthy, he certainly has the talent to make an impact in 2018. And that one-year deal ought to serve as motivation for Matthews to really earn a big contract for the 2019 season and beyond.