Nobody was happy to be cleaning out their locker at the NovaCare Complex on Monday, least of all Jordan Matthews. At the same time, there's reason to be optimistic about the Eagles' future, which the wide receiver believes will only serve as motivation in the offseason.
The main reason for that optimism was the performance of Carson Wentz this season. Now that the Eagles finally have their franchise quarterback in place, Matthews wants his teammates to continue developing their chemistry on and off the field.
And while it's not unusual for offensive players to huddle up in the offseason, work on some things and have a little fun together — the Eagles have met in California in recent years — Matthews wants to try something a little different this year. He thinks everybody should take a trip to North Dakota, where Wentz calls home.
"I want to go to the Fargodome and throw," Matthews said. "I think that place is pretty cool. We can go to downtown Fargo.
"We always go to California. It's cool, but it's real expensive and guys are all across the city, whereas I'm like, 'Bro, we can get like one cabin out there.' I know they have cabins, and that's it, a lot of space. So let's get a cabin, we'll go throw, and then we'll look at each other the rest of the day, because there's nothing else to do. Go somewhere we have no choice but to get closer."
Wentz was a little skeptical of a trip to Fargo, but he definitely wants to get together with Matthews and the offense.
"He wants to go to Fargo, North Dakota, real bad," Wentz said. "I told him ‘I could take you right now, but you might never want to go back.’ It’s pretty cold. He wants to go up there, so we’ll see what we do in the offseason. But it’ll be fun. Whatever we do, we have to get together and do something."
As for activities, Matthews has those planned, too. He knows Wentz is an avid hunter and says he's willing to give it a shot.
"I don't know if I'm going to handle the gun the first couple times, but I'm going to be like the binoculars," Matthews said to laughter.
"We bond in different ways. I go to Carson and he's like, 'Here are my guns.' I'm like, 'Oh, well here's my car.' It's kind of different, but it's going to be fun."
Matthews revealed another benefit to the Eagles' identifying and committing to a young core that includes himself, Wentz and tight end Zach Ertz. They're all going to be calling the area home, which means they don't necessarily have to come up with elaborate plans to get together.
They'll be just a phone call and a short drive away.
"That's definitely something we're all looking forward to is most of it being here," Matthews said. "Philly is a place where, I think lots of times in the offseason, guys like to spread out. But when you have a core group of guys that's close, we want to find a way to be as close to each other as much as possible.
"Carson is going to be here, Zach got his residence here, I have a place here and in Nashville, so we're thinking definitely for the summer and probably near the end of March, beginning of April, those times, really spending more time here working out together, building that chemistry and growing."
In addition to strengthening the rapport between Wentz and his receivers, Matthews knows the Eagles are going to continue building and adding talent in the offseason.
Matthews led all Eagles wideouts with 73 receptions, 804 yards and three touchdowns. The next-closest player on the team was Dorial Green-Beckham with 36 catches, 392 yards and two touchdowns and Nelson Agholor with an almost identical 36 catches, 365 yards and two scores.
Clearly, receiver was an area of weakness for the Eagles, and they'll be looking for help in the offseason. Matthews is fine with that, as long as they continue striving for the goal of becoming the best unit in the NFC East.
"We have a guy at quarterback who can sling the ball around, so we just want to make sure that the pieces that are here get better," Matthews said.
"And the pieces that come in complement what we have in the room to actually take us to an elite level and not just being a group of receivers that go out there and play, but one of the more dynamic receiving corps that can go out and compete. Especially in this division because we see the corps around this division, and we need to start competing with those guys."
Matthews was collecting his belongings having just completed his third season in the NFL, and his third season without making an appearance in the playoffs, and he made it known he wasn't happy about it. At the same time, he's confident the Eagles are on to something.
It's all about giving Wentz the tools he needs to lead this team.
"We got the guy," Matthews said. "We just need to continue to build around him."