NFL Receiver Abruptly Leaves Team Over Playing Time


It’s not quite on the level of Buffalo’s Vontae Davis retiring at halftime of a game, but Rishard Matthews of the Titans has abruptly left the team with no plans of returning.

The seven-year veteran receiver was absent from the team on Wednesday due to what coach Mike Vrable labeled “personal reasons.”

Hours later Matthews told A to Z Sports that he had asked for his release and he also posted a picture of his family on Instagram with the caption, “When Daddy’s home for good. That is unless someone Calls him to get off the couch.”

“Everything is good! Just wasn’t happy with what was going on barely getting any playing time. It was time to move on,” he told A to Z Sports in a text message.

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“I’ve been the leading receiver for two years. Then all of a sudden I’m barely playing and not even starting,” Matthews added. “Using my injury as the scapegoat. Look at number of snaps and targets.”

Matthews has played exactly half of the offensive snaps for the Titans this season which ranks third among Titans’ wideouts. He played roughly 73 percent of the snaps in each of the past two seasons with Tennessee.

He also has played eight snaps on special teams this year, which is a clear sign that he’s been demoted. Matthews didn’t play a single snap on special teams in either of the last two seasons.

Matthews, 28, signed a contract extension this summer that locked him up through the 2019 season. He then had knee surgery in August and said the plan was to ease him back into the lineup.

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But now fully recovered, Matthews can see that the Titans’ plan at wide receiver doesn’t involve him as the team undergoes a youth movement under first-year coach Vrabel.

The other four receivers who have played this year for the Titans have an average age of 24 and none of them have even played 20 NFL games.

Reporter Paul Kuharsky said the Titans are first looking at potential trade partners for Matthews, but a release is the most likely option.

If he is released, Matthews would join a group of unemployed wide receivers that includes Dez Bryant and former Titans teammate, Kendall Wright, among others.

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Releasing Matthews also means the Titans would be without their top three receivers from last season. Tight end Delanie Walker, who led the team in receiving, was lost for the season in Week 1 with a fractured ankle.

Matthews was second on the team in receiving yards while Eric Decker was third. Decker signed with the Patriots this offseason but retired during the preseason.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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