Jordan Matthews trade strips Eagles' Carson Wentz of security blanket

From ESPN - August 11, 2017

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles' offseason has been dedicated to properly arming quarterback Carson Wentz with the weapons he needs to be successful. That had been the dominant theme right up until Friday, when they traded receiver Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round draft pick to the Buffalo Bills for cornerback Ronald Darby.

The trade makes sense on the surface. The Eagles were in desperate need of a cornerback upgrade, and they feel good about some of the young receivers in the pipeline. Considering that Matthews is in the final year of his rookie deal, this was a way to get value in return for Matthews while he was still under their control while also adding a young, talented defensive back with two years left on his contract.

Matthews could have ended up as the third or even fourth option on the Eagles, depending on the fortunes of Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor, the last of whom looked explosive in the slot this spring when Matthews was sidelined with a knee injury.

The flip side is the Eagles have just stripped Wentz of a trusted ally and security blanket. Thursday night's preseason opener turned out to be the last time the two were on the field together as teammates, and it was a reminder of why game action is the only reliable way to evaluate a player. Wentz was under duress on nearly every dropback in his one series of action, as the blitz-happy Packers overwhelmed the Eagles' offensive front. Wentz threw four passes in all; three of them went to Matthews.

The fourth was to rookie Mack Hollins, who stiff-armed his way to an impressive 38-yard touchdown. On the ensuing 2-point conversion try, Wentz's high offering to Agholor proved too much to handle, as the ball skimmed off the receiver's hands and fell incomplete.

Agholor is now in line to gobble up much of Matthews' snaps. While he has had an encouraging spring and summer under the direction of new Eagles wide receivers coach Mike Groh, the 2015 first-round pick is far from a lock to produce at a high clip. He has battled serious confidence issues during his first two seasons in the NFL, and has a total of 59 receptions for 648 yards and three touchdowns in 28 professional games.

Matthews, meanwhile, has been highly productive since being selected 42nd overall in 2014. He ranks first in receptions (225) and third in receiving yards (2,673) among Eagles in their first three years, and is one of only five players in NFL history with 65-plus receptions and 800-plus receiving yards in each of their first three seasons. The other four? Randy Moss, Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans and A.J. Green.


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