Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins express interest in Rishard Matthews as free agency looms

Rishard Matthews breaks the tackle attempt of Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing and runs for a first-quarter touchdown on Oct. 25, 2015.
Rishard Matthews breaks the tackle attempt of Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing and runs for a first-quarter touchdown on Oct. 25, 2015. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Conventional wisdom: Rishard Matthews is going to get paid by somebody this spring but probably not the Dolphins.

The truth: Rishard Matthews is going to get paid by somebody this spring and maybe it will be the Dolphins.

Long viewed as the odd-man out of the Dolphins’ plans at wide receiver, there’s still a chance that Matthews re-signs with the team that drafted him in 2012.

In a bit of a stunner, the Dolphins have contacted Matthews, a pending free agent, about a new deal that would keep him in town, the Miami Herald has learned.

Most assumed that, after the Dolphins used two of their first three picks on receiver last year (picking DeVante Parker in the first round and trading their third-rounder to New Orleans for Kenny Stills), Matthews would move on when his contract expired on March 9.

That’s not a sure thing anymore. At the very least, the organization is open to having him back. But as always, the devil’s in the details.

What would his role be? Matthews proved in a breakout 2015 that he is a productive starter — even if the Dolphins didn’t always view him that way. As recently as last spring, Matthews wanted out because of what he perceived as a lack of respect (and opportunities).

How much would the cap-strapped Dolphins be willing to spend? Matthews, on the open market, would likely command No. 2 receiver money — at the very least.

He had a career year in 2015, despite missing the last five games with broken ribs. He caught 43 passes for 662 yards and four touchdowns. His 15.4 yards-per-catch average was 12th among NFL wide receivers with 40 or more catches. He was on pace for a 1,000-yard season before his injury.

Usually, players with that résumé get paid. Torrey Smith earned a five-year, $40 million contract last year, and his numbers the season before were very similar to Matthews’ in 2015. It’s not hard to envision Matthews fetching a deal that pays him $5 million annually.

▪ The Dolphins signed cornerback Chimdi Chekwa and receiver A.J. Cruz to free-agent contracts Friday. Chekwa, 28, played for the Raiders for four seasons but was out of football in 2015. Cruz was in the Arena Football League the last two years.

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