GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers signed one big receiving target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers and are about to visit with another.
A week after signing tight end Jimmy Graham to a three-year, $30 million deal, the Packers are hosting former Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews on a free agent visit starting Friday, according to a league source familiar with the receiver's plans.
The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Matthews visited Arizona over the weekend and is considered part of the second tier of free agent wide receivers. After a down season in Buffalo, Matthews lost the momentum he was building toward free agency during three years in Philadelphia in which he caught 225 passes for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Matthews was traded from the Eagles to the Bills for cornerback Ronald Darby in August and was thrust into the No. 1 receiver role that belonged to the departed Sammy Watkins. Matthews played in only 10 games due to sternum, thumb and knee injuries, finishing the season on injured reserve due to the knee.
He caught 25 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown.
Matthews underwent knee and ankle surgeries in December due to lingering injuries dating to the 2016 season and the Packers will undoubtedly be looking to see how he is progressing.
The Packers witnessed Matthews’ size and speed firsthand during an exhibition game in 2015 when he caught three passes for 51 yards. At the NFL combine in 2014, Matthews ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds, had a vertical jump of 35½ inches and benched 225 pounds 21 times.
The Vanderbilt alum is a relative of Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice.
Matthews was not only productive in Philadelphia, he was considered a strong locker-room presence because of his work ethic and character.
When he was traded to Buffalo, various Eagles players praised him on social media, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Quarterback Carson Wentz “couldn’t ask for a better teammate & friend” and tight end Zach Ertz wrote, “honestly don’t think a teammate had a bigger impact on my life,” the Inquirer reported.
The 6-6 Graham is more like a receiver than a tight end and will be used all over the field. Adding someone with Matthews’ size to go along with Graham, 6-2, 216-pound Davante Adams, 6-3, 203-pound Geronimo Allison and 6-6, 217-pound Michael Clark would give quarterback Aaron Rodgers an array of big targets.
Given the number of big contracts paid to receivers, Matthews may be seeking a relatively sizeable deal. While adding Graham will help them overcome the release of Jordy Nelson, they should feel the need to build up their receiving corps.
The Packers are $20 million under the salary cap and have enough wiggle room to sign a few low-cost free agents. However, they probably are going to have to create some room if the price for Matthews soars, or they try to add a couple of mid-range free agents.