The Seattle Seahawks signed receiver Chris Matthews to a futures contract Tuesday.
They also may have signed the player most likely to earn the role of long-shot-to-make-the-team preseason darling. Every year throughout the NFL, somebody who enters camp as an unknown turns heads in practice or in preseason games, and soon becomes a fan favorite or the focus of media attention as a feel-good underdog story.
Which brings us back to Matthews.
Matthews, who is listed at 6-foot-5, 227 pounds, went undrafted out of Kentucky, and after a brief stint Cleveland, he went to the Canadian Football League.
In 2012, Matthews had 81 catches for 1,192 yards and 7 touchdowns playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, earning CFL rookie of the year honors.
Matthews missed most of last season because of injuries, but is healthy now according a story in the Winnipeg Sun that quotes his agent.
That article also notes that Matthews could fit in the NFL as something of a receiver/tight end hybrid, because he may not have the quickness to make it in the NFL as a pure receiver.
Big, maybe not quick/fast enough for the NFL, but very productive in Canada?
If that sounds familiar, that’s because it also pretty accurately describes cornerback Brandon Browner, who like Matthews came to Seattle as a little-known futures signing, and who went on to become a Pro Bowler with the Seahawks.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that Matthews is much more likely to be released between now and the 2014 season opener than become an NFL star.
The Seahawks have signed 14 players to futures contracts since their Super Bowl victory — the nine who were part of their practice squad at the end of the season, plus TE Travis Beckum, DB Terrance Parks, LB Mike Taylor and OL Greg Van Roten — and all are fighting uphill battles to end up on the 53-man roster. Even so, Matthews size, his position — the Seahawks lack size at receiver — and his production in Canada make him a player to keep an eye on this summer.
Matthews was a standout at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles and played junior college football at Los Angeles Harbor College before transferring to Kentucky, so it’s a safe bet that Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, the head coach at USC at that time, is at least somewhat familiar with the receiver.