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Jets sign wide receiver Rishard Matthews

Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews celebrates after scoring

Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews celebrates after scoring against the Steelers on Nov. 16, 2017. Credit: AP/Don Wright

The Jets addressed their glaring need for help and depth at wide receiver by signing Rishard Matthews.

The veteran was released by the Titans earlier this season after requesting the team trade or waive him. Matthews had been a main target for Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota, but he was unhappy with his role and how he was being used this year.

Matthews, 29, caught just three passes for 11 yards in three games this season before his release. In the previous two seasons, Matthews had 118 catches for 1,740 yards and 13 touchdowns with the Titans.

Matthews, a seventh-round pick in 2012, played four seasons with the Dolphinsbefore being traded to the Titans. He has 228 career catches for 3,147 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Linebacker Avery Williamson played with Matthews in Tennessee, and said the Jets are getting a good playmaker.

“He’s actually a phenomenal player,” Williamson said on the “Joe and Evan” show on WFAN. “I played with him in Tennessee for two years. He’s a passionate player and talented, very talented.

“He can go. He can go. He can add some great things to the receiving corps. Great hands and he can make something out of nothing. I’ve seen him make some phenomenal catches.”

The Jets placed safety Doug Middleton on injured reserve, clearing a spot for Matthews. Middleton tore his pectoral muscle in Sunday's loss to the Vikings. Secondary may be the next position the Jets address now that they made the move to shore up the wide receiver spot.

In Sunday's game their receiving corps was Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, two special teams players (Andre Roberts and Charone Peake) and rookie Deontay Burnett, who was making his NFL debut.

Sam Darnold’s favorite target Quincy Enunwa missed the game because of a high ankle sprain, which could sideline him a few more weeks.

The Jets also waived Terrelle Pryor over the weekend after he suffered a groin injury. The Jets needed to open a roster spot to promote Burnett from the practice squad so they waived Pryor. It is possible the Jets could bring back Pryor when he is healthy, but that may not be the case after signing Matthews.

Todd Bowles said on a conference call Monday that he believed in the receivers the Jets have, but that the injuries were catching up to them.

“The more we get nicked up, we got to have numbers to produce,” Bowles said. “Certain guys are going to certain packages and have to get more reps and have to come around faster than usual.”

It remains to be seen how much Matthews can help the Jets, but he will be their second-most experienced receiver after Kearse. They also got a former No. 1 receiver — he led the Titans with 945 yards and eight touchdowns two years ago — without giving up anything in a trade.

The Jets reportedly were interested in former Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper, who was dealt to the Cowboys Monday. The Jets probably had no interest in dealing a first-round pick for Cooper, which is what Oakland received from Dallas.

But the Jets could get involved in other trade talks before the Oct. 30 trade deadline, or sign other players in the coming days.

The Jets' secondary is grossly undermanned. They could be down four of their top defensive backs when they play in Chicago Sunday.

Corners Trumaine Johnson (quad) missed the last three games, and Buster Skrine (concussion) sat out last week. Safety Marcus Maye has a broken thumb and Middleton’s season is over.

There are also questions in the backfield — running back Bilal Powell left Sunday’s game with a neck injury — and on the offensive line. Center Spencer Long has been dealing with an injury to his snapping hand, and he suffered another undisclosed injury that forced him out of Sunday’s game.

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