The Miami Dolphins will head into the 2016 season with Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills as their top three receivers. The team also has veteran receiver Greg Jennings still under contract for next season, but based on how he disappeared from the offense down the stretch last year, he is not a guarantee to return. The team's second-leading receiver from 2015 was Rishard Matthews, who appears set to leave South Florida next month when free agency opens.
According to a report from the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley, the Dolphins may not want to see their 2012 seventh-round draft pick leave. Beasley writes, "In a bit of a stunners, the Dolphins have contacted Matthews, a pending free agent, about a new deal that would keep him in town."
Matthews asked the team to trade him last offseason, seeing his chance to move up the depth chart seemingly blocked by the addition of Jennings in free agency, Stills via trade, and Parker's selection in the first round of the draft. When the did not move him, there did not appear to be much hope for a big year for Matthews. However, he had a breakout season, catching 43 passes for 662 yards and 4 touchdowns before broken ribs ended his season after 11 games.
That kind of season, one in which he would have reached the 1,000 yard milestone if he had not been injured, could make Matthews an in-demand free agent when the new league year starts on March 9. His relationship with Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill makes him a commodity Miami appears to want to keep. Matthews could be looking for a contract that pays him between $5 million and $6 million a year, which could actually be cheap for a receiver coming off the season he had last year.
Jennings, who caught 19 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown, is scheduled to account for $5.5 million against the salary cap for Miami in 2016. Matthews clearly outplayed Jennings last year, and now could be looking to make about that same amount as the 10-year veteran.
Miami should see if they can work out a deal with Matthews, keeping more of their own talent in house, and keeping a receiver who clearly works well with Tannehill on the roster. A receiving corps of Landry, Parker, Matthews, and Stills should set up the offense well, with another receiver or two added for depth. Matthews could be looking for a chance to hit the free-agent market, but the Dolphins are right to at least be contacting him about a new deal. If the interest is there, working out the details of a new contract should be high on Miami's pre-free-agency list.