Carson Wentz on Jordan Matthews Trade: ‘It's Tough' But ‘part of the Business'

On Friday night, Carson Wentz and a few teammates took Jordan Matthews out to dinner at Bar Amis in the Navy Yard for a final farewell.

"Then I drove him over to the airport," Wentz said after practice Saturday.

This was a Welcome-to-the-NFL moment for the Eagles' second-year quarterback.

Just like that, his favorite receiver and one of his closest friends was no longer his teammate.

"You know, it's tough," Wentz said. "It's one of those things where there's the personal side of things and the football side of things.

"The football side of things, you've just got to trust what they're doing upstairs. Ultimately, they're the ones that make those decisions and what they think is best for the team, I'm going to be in support of 100 percent. They haven't let me down or this team down yet.

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"But on a personal side, it's tough. This is my first time experiencing something like this with someone who's one of my best friends. You know? And seeing him yesterday, it was tough on him, too. It was kind of out of the blue. There's really no other way to put it. It's just kind of tough personally."

The Eagles traded Matthews and a third-round pick to the Bills on Friday morning for cornerback Ronald Darby.

Wentz completed 73 passes to Matthews last year. His next-favorite targets among wide receivers were Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham, with 36 catches each.

He said executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman did not consult with him before executing the trade but did speak with him soon after.

"He told me it was already done," Wentz said. "I just said that's part of the business.

"Obviously, he knew how I felt with Jordan being one of my best friends. So on the personal side it's tough, and he knew that, he was prepared for that, and I told him that, but keeping business business is just part of that."

Matthews, whose 225 catches are ninth-most in NFL history by a wide receiver in his first three seasons, was among the most popular guys in the locker room.

Several players spoke Saturday about the impact he's made in their lives in a short period of time. Zach Ertz said, "He'll always be my brother."

Wentz seemed a bit shaken when he spoke about Matthews on Saturday.

"Just seeing the reaction on Twitter from all the guys in the locker room just speaks to the guy he was, the high-character guy he was, and the respect he had around here both in the locker room and in the whole building," he said.

"It'll be different, it'll be tough, but it just speaks to the guy he was. Everyone loved him. He was the ultimate competitor out here. It was always about the team first.

"Replacing a guy like that in the locker room is definitely not going to be easy.

What about replacing him on the field?

Wentz was pretty honest about how much he'll miss Matthews. Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith are newcomers, and Jeffery hasn't practiced much this summer. Mack Hollins is a rookie. Nelson Agholor has never played up to expectations.

How do you replace 75 catches for 900 yards and 6 ½ touchdowns a year?

"That'll be tough, too," Wentz said. "We believe we have some younger guys and some guys that have kind of proven themselves here in the offseason and training camp and everything that can really kind of step up and take on that role to some extent.

"We also have a guy like Trey Burton, that last year filled in nicely there and can do some things. It'll open up some opportunities for some other guys.

"But obviously Jordan's been extremely productive the last couple years, so missing that piece in the slot, it's not going to be easy to replace, but I'm confident we have a number of guys who can hopefully step up and do a great job."

Wentz lost his favorite target and closest friend, and he sounded like it Saturday. It was by far the most candid interview he's done since getting here last spring.

Asked about the chemistry he had with Matthews and how long it will take to develop it with his new receivers, he answered honestly.

"Obviously, that takes time," he said. "We were so close off the field that on the field it helped to just know what to expect from each other.

"It does take time, but I feel like this spring, Jordan was out a little bit and I had a chance to develop that chemistry with some other guys this summer, throwing with those guys, training camp, and now these last couple weeks before the season comes around, we'll get more work."

Through a quirk of the preseason schedule, Matthews, LeSean McCoy and Jordan Poyer will be back Thursday, when the Bills face the Eagles in a preseason game at the Linc.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott, a long-time Andy Reid assistant, has a number of familiar faces on his coaching staff, including Leslie Frazier, David Culley, Juan Castillo and Chad Hall.

Wentz was asked what it will be like seeing Matthews trot out the visiting tunnel before the game Thursday night.

"It's going to be weird," he said. "It's going to be really weird. It's not going to be fun, I'll tell you that."

Wentz made one thing clear. They may no longer be teammates, but they'll always be friends.

"We're still so close off the field," Wentz said. "That's not going to go anywhere just because he's in Buffalo."

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