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Ex-Titans WR Rishard Matthews Cut by Saints After Preseason Week 1

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 10, 2019

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Rishard Matthews (12) comes off the line in the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Minnesota Vikings in New Orleans, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

The New Orleans Saints released veteran wide receiver Rishard Matthews.

Head coach Sean Payton confirmed Saturday the team terminated Matthews' contract, per NFL Network's James Palmer.

Matthews signed with the Saints in June after getting a tryout with New Orleans during its preseason minicamp. He spent the 2018 season with the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets, catching five passes for 24 yards in eight games.

The 29-year-old also briefly featured in New Orleans' 34-25 defeat to the Minnesota Vikings on Friday. He finished with one reception for seven yards.

The Saints released Cameron Meredith in July. Meredith played six games between 2017 and 2018 while recovering from a torn ACL, and The Athletic's Larry Holder noted Matthews was at the time viewed as a more valued piece:

Larry Holder @LarryHolder

Add it all up for Meredith. Health issues, younger WRs emerging. Also the Saints are giving veteran Rishard Matthews a chance.

Matthews had a career-high 65 receptions and 945 receiving yards in 2016 and saw his production dip only slightly in 2017 (53 receptions, 795 yards). Midway through last year, however, Matthews sought his release from the Titans after his role in the offense had significantly diminished. Things didn't improve following his move to the Jets.

Now, he's facing another setback.

According to ESPN's Field Yates, the Saints used the "left squad" designation for Matthews. The phrase is generally self-explanatory and used when a player abruptly leaves his team.

Mike Triplett @MikeTriplett

Sean Payton announced that WR Rishard Matthews was released, along with TE Jake Powell. Veteran OL Ulrick John was placed on injured reserve. Payton confirmed that Matthews chose to leave. He did not specify a reason but said, “It’s not for everyone.” https://t.co/o0EaICSqN6

By officially releasing Matthews outright, he'd likely get another chance in the NFL straight away.

When a player is placed on the reserved/left squad list, he's unable to return to his team or sign elsewhere. The NFL formally reinstated Su'a Cravens in February 2018 after the Washington Redskins added him to the reserve/left squad list, effectively putting his career on hold.