The New England Patriots have been extremely quiet during the NFL's legal tampering period were they have been allowed to contact free agents of opposing teams. While the team has been active in cutting plays like wide receiver Brandon LaFell and tight end Scott Chandler, any information on their replacements has been kept under lock and key.
With two exceptions: Running back Bilal Powell and wide receiver Rishard Matthews.
We've covered Jets free agent running back Powell here, and now Matthews gets a turn.
Two skill players the Pats have absolutely contacted during legal tampering: Rishard Matthews (wr) and Bilal Powell (rb).— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) March 9, 2016
The Patriots have expressed interest in free-agent WR Rishard Matthews, per source. Caught 43 passes for 662 yards, 4 TDs last season.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) March 9, 2016
The Patriots can offer what Matthews wants:
"Opportunity," Matthews told the Miami Herald. "Wherever I go, I'm competing to get on the field right away. I don't want to be looked at as anything less than a 2."
With LaFell out of the way, and with Danny Amendola relegated to the slot, Matthews would be the clear-cut #2 behind Julian Edelman. The Dolphins have Jarvis Landry and 2015 1st round pick DeVante Parker on the roster, so Matthews' path to a #2 role isn't as clear.
New England is the first team to surface with interest in Matthews this period, which is semi-surprising in a weak receiver class. While the Falcons, Browns, and Titans are interested in Bengals free agent Marvin Jones, and the Falcons and the Texans are interested in Browns free agent Travis Benjamin, interest in Matthews has been quiet.
Is Matthews going to be the eventual replacement for LaFell? We'll have to wait and see.