Eagles Trade Jordan Matthews, Get Starting-Caliber CB
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Smoke turned into fire Friday when the Eagles sent lame-duck receiver Jordan Matthews, along with a 2018 third-round pick, to the Buffalo Bills for a starting-level cornerback, Ronald Darby.
The added depth in the receiving corps made Philadelphia executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman comfortable enough to deal the proven production of Matthews for a 23-year-old, two-year starter in what Roseman called a "cornerback-deficient league."
"This was a unique opportunity," Roseman claimed. "We were not out there shopping Jordan Matthews."
Matthews snared 225 receptions for 2,673 yards in three years with the team but his role was expected to be reduced this season after the offseason additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. The addition of promising fourth-round pick Mack Hollins, the offseason of former first-round draft pick Nelson Agholor and the improvement of second-year wideout Marcus Johnson also contributed Philadelphia's desire to move Matthews.
"I think from our perspective and Jordan's perspective, everything's been incredibly positive with Jordan Matthews and our conversations with him and his agent," Roseman said. "It never came down to this guy's asking for too much money and we're not willing to do this so we better ship him out now. This all came down to this particular trade and this particular value for where our football team is now. Last year at this time, from where the group was, it would have been hard to do. It was still hard to do but when we looked at the overall needs on this team and what this guy could potentially do for us, we thought it was the right deal."
Darby arrives in Philadelphia at a position of need and will be expected to step in immediately as a starter opposite Jalen Mills. A Florida State product, Darby had a brilliant rookie season in Buffalo before falling back a bit during his sophomore campaign.
Darby intercepted two passes as a rookie with the Bills and started 14 games in 2016, making 69 tackles and breaking up 12 passes
Matthews, meanwhile, caught three passes for 18 yards against Green Bay in the team's 24-9 preseason loss on Thursday night.
Ironically, the Bills and Eagles will play each other Thursday night in their second preseason game.
"You worry about everything when you trade a professional like Jordan Matthews," Roseman said. "This isn't one where you're celebrating and doing a dance because you're giving up a good player and a good pick. In this league, you're not going to be able to get anything unless you give something. ...it hurts when people you care about leave.
"The hardest thing to do was talking to Jordan about this. It never gets any easier in this business because however good he is as a player, he's a better person. But we've got to do what's in the best interest of this team moving forward and that's why we made the trade."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen