AP NEWS

Titans GM on releasing receiver: Reached point of no return

September 27, 2018

FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2018, file photo, Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews plays against the Houston Texans in an NFL football game in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans announced Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, that they have released Matthews. (AP Photo/James Kenney)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans now are without their top two receiving threats this season, releasing wide receiver Rishard Matthews after they couldn’t trade the veteran.

General manager Jon Robinson said Thursday morning that Matthews talked with him last week about being unhappy, then came to him Monday requesting to be traded or released. The Titans talked with several teams, but Robinson said nothing came from those discussions with Matthews unhappy over his role in the offense.

“It had reached kind of maybe a point of no return for him,” Robinson said. “I told him several times, several times, that I know you can help this football team. I believed in him. That’s why we signed him a couple years ago, and he’s been good for our football team the last couple years.”

The Titans currently are without three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker who broke his right ankle in the season opener.

Matthews was one of the first free agents signed by Robinson after he became Tennessee’s general manager in 2016. The wide receiver led the Titans with 1,740 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns combined over the past two seasons and started 20 of 30 games in that span.

Coming off injuries that limited him through the offseason and preseason, Matthews had not started once. He also had only three catches for 11 yards.

The receiver, who turns 29 on Oct. 12, wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday that “Daddy’s home for good. That is unless someone Calls him to get off the couch.” Matthews did not practice Wednesday with what Titans coach Mike Vrabel said at the time were personal reasons.

Vrabel declined to talk about Matthews after practice, saying he would talk about the players on the Titans and Sunday’s opponent in the Eagles.

Matthews had criticized Tennessee’s offense late last season. The Titans hired a new coach in Vrabel, who brought in offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to install a new offense.

Injuries limited Matthews with the new offense being installed this offseason. He wasn’t removed from the physically unable to perform list Aug. 26 . The Titans even signed Matthews to an extension through 2019 on Aug. 21, a deal the receiver negotiated on his own.

Matthews returned just as quarterback Marcus Mariota hurt his elbow in the season opener, severely limiting the Titans’ offense with Tennessee even pulling out the wildcat at times over the past two games.

Robinson said he repeatedly told Matthews that the receiver could help the Titans.

“He felt differently,” Robinson said. “He felt like he needed to move on, and that’s what we’ve done.”

This leaves the Titans with very little experience at wide receiver. Matthews had 82 games and 228 receptions in his career. The remaining Titans receivers: Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, Tajae Sharpe, Darius Jennings and Nick Williams have a combined 81 games and 156 career catches.

Davis is the top receiver after being the fifth overall draft pick in the 2017 draft, and Taylor was a third-round pick. Sharpe now is the most tenured receiver with the Titans after being the first pick in the fifth round draft in 2016. Sharpe said Matthews was like a big brother to the group.

“We understand he has his own personal things going on,” Taylor said. “He wants to go about it his way.”

The Titans (2-1) host the Eagles (2-1) on Sunday with Mariota improving giving hope that the Tennessee offense might open up.

“We can’t look back,” Sharpe said. “We got to get rolling with the guys that are in this locker room, so that just gives opportunities for more guys to step on the field and make some plays for us.”

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