Chris Matthews is done with the NFL.
The veteran receiver agreed to terms with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday, returning to where he began his CFL tenure in 2012. After four seasons (2014-17) south of the border with Seattle and Baltimore, Matthews opted to sign a long-term deal with the Bombers rather than continue pursuing NFL opportunities.
“I’m not looking to go back to the NFL at all,” Matthews said during a conference call. “So why not commit somewhere longterm and see where it takes me?
“Winnipeg has been great to me. From the time I got to Winnipeg to the time when I left, that was probably the most fun football I’ve played in a long time.”
Matthews had 81 catches for 1,192 yards and seven TDs with Winnipeg in 2012. He was limited to four games the following season before heading to the NFL.
He was a member of Seattle’s Super Bowl squad in 2014, registering five catches for 109 yards and a TD. He was a leading candidate for game MVP honours but that went to New England’s Tom Brady following the Patriots’ 28-24 victory.
Matthews played a key role in Seattle reaching the Super Bowl, recovering a crucial onside kick in its 28-22 overtime win over Green Bay in the NFC title game.
The six-foot-five, 230-pound Matthews signed last October with the Calgary Stampeders. He played in the club’s final four regular-season games as well as the West final and Grey Cup win over the Ottawa Redblacks, finishing with 19 catches for 350 yards and a TD.
Calgary released the native of Long Beach, Calif., in December to allow him to pursue NFL opportunities.
“It’s a young man’s game,” Matthews said. “I’m 29 and in their (NFL GMs) eyes I’m a lot older and I’m a veteran so money does play a part.
“Of course, they want to go with the younger guy who’s cheaper than go with the older guy who they have to pay and hope and pray that he pans out. I understand the business side of it.”
The addition of Matthews gives quarterback Matt Nichols another bona fide target. Nichols, 32, threw for 3,146 yards in 14 games last season with 18 TDs and 13 interceptions.
“I feel like he’s definitely a great competitor,” Matthews said. “I feel like he knows what he’s doing out there.”
Winnipeg GM Kyle Walters said Matthews ticks a lot of boxes for the Bombers.
“Chris is not only a big-bodied receiver, but has experience in our league and with (Winnipeg offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice),” he said in a statement. “He is a very physical receiver, will go up and get the football, and we are very excited to add him to our offence in 2019.”
Matthews said despite his age, he’s still got plenty of good football left.
“Being in the NFL, I got to play and contribute to teams,” he said. “Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay healthy at times.
“But I think even though that was a fault, I think it’s a plus coming back to the CFL . . . I’m a fresh body. I feel like I have years to come. My ultimate goal is to retire as a Winnipeg Blue Bomber. I want my name to be up there with Milt Stegall and Terrence Edwards, along with other greats.”