How Rishard Matthews became Dolphins' unlikely leading WR

Rishard Matthews knows how quickly things can change in the NFL.

Entering a contract year, the Miami Dolphins wide receiver saw the writing on the wall.

Dolphins brass traded for Kenny Stills and signed Greg Jennings. Then, the team spent its first-round pick on DeVante Parker. With Jarvis Landry entering his second year, it appeared Matthews would be an afterthought.

Recently fired head coach Joe Philbin didn't have legitimate plans to let Matthews compete for playing time, as sources said. Then, the fourth-year wide receiver asked to be traded or released in May.

Six months later, Matthews is leading the team eight games into the season in all receiving categories other than receptions, where he's second to Landry. Matthews has caught 37 passes for 554 yards and four touchdowns and has shown ability to be a deep threat, ranking ninth in the league in average yards per reception (15.0) with a minimum of 30 catches.

Matthews, a 2012 seventh-round pick, arguably has helped himself more than any player in a contract year other than Panthers cornerback Josh Norman.

With Matthews, running back Lamar Miller, defensive ends Olivier Vernonand Derrick Shelby and linebacker Kelvin Sheppard set to test free agency next year, Dolphins' decision-makers will face tough decisions on whom to keep.

Read this week's Front Office Insider, which details second-year quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr who play this week in Oakland.