While I had initially assumed today's release of Brooks Foster was an act of the Miami Dolphins trimming their 10-man receiving corps, it seems the team was simply swapping out for a new face, as the Dolphins have reportedly signed free-agent John Matthews to a contract.
Matthews, who was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 13, will provide the Dolphins with another body at receiver and on special teams, with three more preseason games remaining.
The signing once again gives the Dolphins 84 players on the 90-man roster, with the cutdown to 75 players exactly two weeks away on Aug. 30. Final cuts to 53 players are slated for Sept. 3.
A multi-sport star at Regis Jesuit High School in Denver, Matthews played college football at the University of San Diego under Jim Harbaugh, despite being recruited by a few Ivy League schools. Teamed with current Tampa Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson, Matthews practically rewrote the Toreros' receiving record book.
Matthews finished his collegiate career with 195 receptions, 3,615 receiving yards and 50 receiving touchdowns. He left holding school records such as receptions in a game, receptions in a season, receiving yards in a season, career receiving yards and career receiving touchdowns.
Despite his impressive college résumé, Matthews (6'0", 200 pounds) went undrafted in 2009 and signed with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent. He was waived during final cuts and spent most of his rookie season on the team's practice squad.
The Colts waived Matthews on July 20, 2010, and he was claimed by the Jaguars. After totaling 83 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason, Matthews made his NFL debut in the season opener against the Denver Broncos before being relegated to the practice squad. He was promoted back to the active roster in November and appeared in two more games.
Matthews caught one pass for 19 yards in the 2011 preseason opener against the New England Patriots but was waived just two days later.
It seems the Dolphins weren't quite ready to trim their receiving corps, even with most of the depth chart already decided at the position, so Matthews becomes the newest member of a five-man group likely competing for one spot.
Matthews was clearly a very good college player and has the talent to compete for a roster spot in the NFL, but he lacks ideal height and has only average speed. His best chance to make an NFL roster is on special teams, where he could then work himself into a role on offense.
The issue in Miami is that he's going to have a hard time cracking the active roster. Not only is he entering the mix late into camp, but fifth-receiver favorite Roberto Wallace is a more intriguing candidate, who has already proved himself on special teams.
Matthews also lacks the straight-line speed of Marlon Moore, or the return skills of Phillip Livas, making it likely that he will only be a camp body for the Dolphins.
That being said, the Dolphins usually keep one or two receivers on the practice squad during the regular season, and Matthews is certainly a worthy candidate for that role if he survives until final cuts.
As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.
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Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and currently works for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.
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