Jordan Matthews has been waiting to get back in midnight green.
The former Eagle, who was drafted by the team in the second round in 2014 and traded to Buffalo before the 2017 season, said he kept in touch with Eagles players and thought about the possibility of playing together once again. But he never thought it would actually happen.
However, after injuries to wide receivers Mack Hollins and Mike Wallace that landed them on Injured Reserve, and after waiving DeAndre Carter, the Eagles needed depth at receiver. So, they turned to an old friend.
"I always keep up with them as far as what the team is doing, even last year with the playoff run and everything," said Matthews after his first practice with the Eagles on Wednesday. "So, we knew when there was an opportunity for me to be able to come back and play, we were like, 'Yo, let's do this. Let's have a good time and make some more memories.'"
Matthews signed as a free agent Wednesday morning after working out with the team Tuesday. Head coach Doug Pederson said they evaluated Matthews, who had been battling a hamstring injury, and he was deemed healthy and ready to play.
Matthews spent last season with the Bills and signed with the New England Patriots in the spring of 2018 as a free agent. He was cut after suffering the hamstring injury early in camp. For the Eagles, they get a player who is already familiar with the system and the personnel.
"He was a great leader on the team, in the locker room, out on the field," Pederson said. "His work ethic. He was all part of the process of establishing what we have today. He's bringing that back. He feels that when he's in the building and he sees it. I think it's enhanced even more since he's been here. He just helps us, again, enhance it further."
Matthews had 225 receptions for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns in his first three seasons with the Eagles. One of those touchdowns was Carson Wentz's first career touchdown pass in Week 1 of 2016. He and Wentz were good friends and Wentz was disappointed when he was traded last season.
Matthews said signing with the Patriots was uncharted territory as he knew no one there. It was just work. The Eagles are different for him.
"This is just a crazy luxury to have friends like this," Matthews said. "Not just Carson, but (Jordan) Hicks, Kamu (Grugier-Hill), (Chris) Maragos, Zach (Ertz), I'm close with a lot of these guys so it's almost unreal to sit here and talk to them at lunch, after the workday, so it does give me a little more than an ease away from the work."
It's a mutually beneficial relationship for two players in Matthews and Wentz who are making their return to the field for the first time this season.
"I think it's huge," Pederson said. "It has a comfort level for the quarterback knowing you got another outside receiver that we brought in from the outside who has worked with him in the past. I just think it can be a benefit to Carson."
Matthews primarily played the slot receiver role in his first stint in Philadelphia. When he was traded to Buffalo, Nelson Agholor enjoyed a breakout season in that role. Pederson has not shown his cards when it comes to where Matthews will line up.
"I don't get into slot, inside, outside," Pederson said. "The only reason I say that is because we move our guys around so much. You see Nelson inside, you see Nelson outside, and that could be by formation, just matchups and different things."
"I really don't know," Matthews said. "I just try to go out and play. I think Nelson has done an incredible job. So, whatever they need me to do I'm just going to do it."
Matthews said at the end of the day, his focus is on producing for his new team and doing his job in whatever capacity that could mean. But it's an added bonus he's able to play with familiar faces at the same time.
"It's cool to be able to get back to work with the guys and everything," Matthews said. "It's fun. I've got a lot of great friends here. I'm familiar with the offense. It was good to get out there and get some work done today."