Rishard Matthews emerged as one of Marcus Mariota’s top targets in the receiver's first season with the Titans, setting career highs in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns with one game still to play.
But he wasn’t happy through the first several weeks of the season, when he was splitting starts and sharing playing time with Andre Johnson, a future Hall of Fame receiver who signed with the Titans on the eve of training camp.
“I was pissed. At the end of the day, I didn’t come here to sit on the bench or sit on the sideline,” Matthews told The Tennessean on Friday. “I didn’t come here to rotate with anybody. I signed here for a reason. So it definitely pissed me off.”
Matthews, who spent the previous four years with the Dolphins before signing a three-year, $15 million contract with the Titans as a free agent in March, leads the team with 831 receiving yards and eight touchdowns this season, and his 56 catches trail only Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker, who has 60. Matthews will have a chance to boost those numbers in the regular-season finale against the Texans on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Matthews did get off to a bit of a slow start this year and this was likely a reason. Matthews caught his first touchdown of the season in a blowout victory against the Dolphins. It began a stretch of seven scores in eight games. Johnson, meanwhile, didn’t have a catch in the three games after that victory against Miami and abruptly retired on Oct. 31, just eight games into his tenure with the Titans.
Titans general manager Jon Robinson released a statement regarding Andre Johnson's retirement:
"Going back to his days at the University of Miami, Andre was one of the most impressive wide receivers I've scouted. He had a professional approach to the game both on and off the field and in my opinion is one of the best to have played the great game. I enjoyed getting to know and work with him in his time with our team. He certainly contributed to this team -- making the game-winning catch at Detroit and his daily interaction with the young wide receivers. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward in whatever endeavors he chooses."
Johnson, who entered the NFL out of the University of Miami as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2003 draft, spent the first 12 years of his career with the Houston Texans before playing with the Indianapolis Colts last season and the Titans this year. In 14 seasons, he racked up 1,062 catches for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdowns. Those figures rank ninth, 10th, and 33rd in NFL history. From a fantasy perspective, this news solidifies the snaps for Rishard Matthews (who played 87% of the snaps in Week 8), Tajae Sharpe (55%) and Kendall Wright (39%). The Titans are using multiple-TE sets extensively, but it certainly helped that they had the lead for the whole game against the Jaguars. Moving forward, Matthews seems to be the receiver to own in Tennessee, with Wright continuing to be highly productive in a limited role.
Sep 09, 2016 · 5:48 PM EDT
Titans WR Kendall Wright (hamstring, out) missed practice all week and is out for Week 1. Andre Johnson probably will play in three-WR sets.
So which receiver – or receivers – might benefit from Green-Beckham’s departure, keeping in mind the Titans are not likely to keep five on the final roster?
As for the veterans, it clears more room for guys like 31-year-old Harry Douglas and 35-year-old Andre Johnson. It seemed unlikely the Titans would keep both veterans – and that still may be the case – but it’s easier to make a case for that happening now.
The DGB trade could also breathe new life into Justin Hunter, a 2013 second-round pick who – like DGB – has suffered from inconsistency. Another player who benefits is Tre McBride, the second-year player out of William & Mary who spent last season on the practice squad. He wasn’t receiving much attention at the start of camp, but has come on strong over the last few weeks.