NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans released receiver Rishard Matthews on Thursday, and general manager Jon Robinson and players addressed the issue after the news was delivered.
Robinson said he appreciates what Matthews did for the team over the years, and wished him well. Matthews informed the Titans earlier in the week he was back home, and had no plans of coming back.
"He reached out to me Monday and asked to be released or traded," Robinson said of Matthews. "We explored the trade option with several teams, and I would say that market never really manifested itself to get a deal."
Matthews, initially signed with the Titans prior to the 2016 season, had just three catches for 11 yards in three games this season as he worked his way back from an injury that kept him out of practices in the offseason.
In the previous two seasons, Matthews led the team with 1,740 receiving yards and 13 touchdown receptions, and he ranked second on the team behind tight end Delanie Walker with 118 catches
"He missed a lot of time with injuries, and was hampered in training camp," Robinson said. "I thought he was coming back. He was working hard in practice, and was even running in scout team when we had some guys down. He was practicing hard. I was looking forward to him getting back into kind of what we have seen from him the last couple of years on the field.
"He just felt that wasn't happening."
A seven-year pro, Matthews played in 33 games for the Titans since 2016. He spent his first four seasons with the Dolphins.
Robinson said he told Matthews several times he could help the team, but he said Matthews clearly didn't feel the same way. Robinson said he talked to Matthews last week about his role with the team.
After Sunday's game, Matthews was at point where things "ended for him," Robinson said.
"I think that Rishard could help this team," Robinson said. "Again, I told him that several times. He felt differently. He felt like he needed to move on, and that's what we've done."
The Titans currently have five receivers on the team's 53-man roster: Corey Davis, Tajae Sharpe, Taywan Taylor, Darius Jennings and Nick Williams.
"Guys are going to have to continue to make plays, whether it is Taywan or Corey or Darius or Tajae, Nick Williams," Robinson said. (Cam) Batson is on the practice squad and he had a great day yesterday. Those guys are going to have to step up just like we've done at other positions when we had guys dinged."
Davis leads the team with 13 catches for 151 yards, while Taylor has seven catches for 62 yards and a touchdown in three games.
Robinson said the Titans will look at all the receivers available in free agency. He indicated the team would likely stay at 52 players this week. He said the team is still evaluating whether it needs an extra receiver in what's currently a five-receiver group.
Players in the locker room reacted to the news before today's practice.
"It is a difficult situation," said Sharpe, who had two catches for 31 yards this season. "We are going to miss him. We all wish him the best in his future endeavors. He was definitely one of the leaders of this offense. He was the oldest receiver in our group, and he brought a lot of experience, and he made a lot of plays for us. We are going to miss him, and wish him the best.
"We can't look back. We've got to get rolling with the guys in the room. It just gives the opportunity for more guys to step on the field and make some plays for us. … We have to step it up collectively, and that's what we plan to do."
Taylor said players have communicated with Matthews in recent days.
The Titans face the Eagles on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
"We are all sticking together," Taylor said. "Rishard was one of our playmakers, and losing a playmaker is obviously not ideal. But now there is an opportunity for guys to step up and produce even more. It is a high demand league, and we have to demand the best out of each other every day.
"Nothing is changing around this team. We are still here, For the Boys, everybody is all in. We want to keep our focus on the Eagles. We have a great opponent coming in here and that is what the focus is all about."
The Tennessee Titans practice inside the bubble on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)