It began in the spring when the team made significant changes at wide receiver. The team traded for Kenny Stills, signed veteran free agent Greg Jennings and drafted rookie DeVante Parker in the first round. Matthews thought these moves pushed him further down the depth chart and he wanted out.
But the Dolphins refused to trade or release Matthews and gave him a shot to earn a role in training camp. He wound up winning the starting job in a contract year and became the team’s second-leading receiver.
Matthews also suffered season-ending rib and chest injuries in Week 12 against the New York Jets. As Matthews heads into free agency, he isn’t sure if he will return to Miami.
“I mean, I’m not worried about that right now,” Matthews said. “I’m starting my training [Tuesday]. I’m going to train my ass off this offseason and just come prepared for next year wherever it is.”
Matthews finished with 43 receptions for 662 yards and four touchdowns.
The safe assumption is that Matthews will not return to the Dolphins. They have a tight salary cap and plenty of depth at receiver. Second-year standout Jarvis Landry set a new team record with 110 receptions this season and Parker came on strong in the final month of his rookie year. Those are Miami’s two projected starters for 2016.
Matthews is a physical receiver who should get interest on the open market. It is important for Matthews to find the team that gives him the best opportunity to start, and that’s probably not in Miami.
“Just where I fit in with the offense, where I fit in with the organization,” Matthews said of what he's looking for. “That’s the biggest thing really. Wherever it is, I’m going to go compete and try to get on the field right away.”