The NFL is predicated on developing homegrown talent and the Miami Dolphins have a player blossoming into his own during a contract year. Prior to the season, most people paid attention to the likes of Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon entering their contract years but the player I am referring to is former 7th round pick Rishard Matthews.
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Matthews defied the odds to make the squad as a rookie 7th round pick and do enough to warrant staying around the past four years. After a solid sophomore season, his career took a step backwards as he lived in recently fired head coach Joe Philbin’s doghouse. This year, he earned a starting spot against all odds and currently leads the Miami Dolphins in receiving yards, yards per catch, and touchdowns. I get what some people may be thinking; the Miami Dolphins have replacements on the roster for him and have bigger priorities this offseason to spend their minimal cap space on. And while I understand the presence of first round pick DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills as replacements for next year, an offense can never have too many weapons.
Matthews had a strong training camp last offseason and had to wrongfully ride the pine because of an idiot head coach and the bloated salaries of 3 players positioned above him on the depth chart. Only Jarvis Landry rightfully deserved more playing time than him and Matthews was clearly a more imposing presence at camp than Brandon Gibson. While some people may say, well he’s a malcontent, I say Matthews had the right to make a stink about his position on the depth chart because as we’re all seeing now, he’s a baller. Thankfully that ruckus he made earned him a fair opportunity this offseason and when injuries hit, he took full advantage and is sitting in the position he is today, a starter and focal point of the Miami Dolphins passing game. His back to back receptions on the opening touchdown drive against the Tennessee Titans set the tone for the afternoon, especially his clutch 3rd down reception where he took a licking.
Understandably, the front office may be hesitant to dole out midseason extensions while an interim head coach is in position, but keeping quality players should be of upmost importance to general manager Dennis Hickey if he wants to keep his job at the end of the year. I’m also of the mindset that if you extend Matthews now, you’ll be able to get him at a lower price point than they will if they try to sign him during the offseason after a career year. Matthews has been dependable this season and most of all, consistent. A player entering his prime and blossoming into a stud, if the Miami Dolphins want to become a Super Bowl caliber team one day, they won’t reach that point letting players like Matthews get away. Matthews is a physical presence in the passing game and his chemistry with Ryan Tannehill has been on display his whole career whenever given the opportunity to shine on offense. Matthews is a great compliment to Landry and the rest of the young receiving core, keeping them together beyond this season would be great and something I’m sure Tannehill would cosign.
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