There is little mercy in the business of the NFL, as the trade of wide receiver Jordan Matthews shows. Extremely popular in the locker room and throughout the Eagles organization, Matthews was dealt along with a 2018 third-round draft pick to Buffalo on Friday as the Eagles acquired cornerback Ronald Darby.
“It’s tough,” said quarterback Carson Wentz, who established a very close rapport with Matthews on and off the field in the time the two were Eagles. “It’s one of those things where, there’s the personal side of things, and there’s the football side of things. The football side of things, you’ve just got to trust what they’re doing upstairs. Ultimately, they’re the ones that make the decisions that they think are the best for the team.
“I’m going to be in support of them 100 percent. They haven’t let this team down yet. On the personal side, it’s tough. This is my first time experiencing this with someone who is one of my best friends. Seeing him yesterday, it’s tough on him, too.”
Matthews caught 73 passes for 804 yards and three scores last year, including a 19-yarder that was Wentz’s first NFL touchdown pass in last season’s first drive in the opening-day win over Cleveland. The two had terrific chemistry and trust.
That needs to be replaced in the offense.
“That will be tough, too. At the same time we believe we have some younger guys and some guys who have kind of proven themselves here in the offseason and in Training Camp that can step up and take on that role to some extent. We also have a guy like (tight end) Trey Burton, who last year filled in nicely there,” Wentz said. “That will open up some opportunities for some guys. Obviously, Jordan has been extremely productive the last couple years, so missing that piece in the slot is not going to be easy to replace, but I’m confident that we have a number of guys who can step up.”
Wentz acknowledged that building chemistry with his other receivers will take some time, but with Matthews sidelined during Organized Team Activities, Wentz developed a bond with the entire receiver corps.
Wentz found out about the deal shortly before it was announced as he had a conversation with Howie Roseman. His reaction?
“That’s part of the business,” said Wentz, who said he was among a group of players who spent time with Matthews after the trade was announced and then took him to the airport to fly to Buffalo. “Everyone loved him. He was the ultimate competitor out here. It was always about the team first and so, replacing a guy like that in the locker room is definitely not going to be easy.”