The much talked about trade with the Redskins fell through when Washington selected Tulane quarterback Patrick Ramsey with their first-round selection.
"Shane was motivated to get a fresh start elsewhere and, after solidifying depth at the quarterback position with (Henry) Burris and (Chris) Chandler, his release was the best move for both sides," Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo said. "He did a good job for us last season and we wish him well."
However, there is a chance Matthews will still end up in Washington reuniting him with his college coach Steve Spurrier. Matthews is free to sign with any team he wants. Spurrier has already obtained ex-Gator quarterback Danny Wuerffel, a third-stringer with the Bears last season, and has expressed interest in acquiring Matthews.
Against the 49ers, Matthews threw two fourth quarter touchdown passes to erase a 19-point Niner lead nd, after an Anthony Thomas two-point conversion with 0:33 remaining, forced overtime connecting on 25 of 31 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns.
Matthews orchestrated an improbable come-from-behind win with two touchdown passes (completing seven of eight attempts) in the final 32 seconds against Cleveland, the first a nine-yard pass to Marty Booker and the second a 34-yard Hail Mary to James Allen as time expired, setting up overtime. He established single-game career-highs in attempts, completions and yardage against the Browns, connecting on 30 of 50 passes for 357 yards and two touchdowns.
"Nobody will ever forget the Cleveland game or the San Francisco game," said Bears offensive coordinator John Shoop. "They were just unbelievable games, both of them. He deserves a great deal of credit for making a lot of plays work in those games."
In 22 career regular season contests with the Bears, Matthews completed 366 of 599 passes for 3,461 yards with 19 TDs and 18 interceptions. Matthews ranks fourth on the Bears all-time career passing efficiency list. His rating of 75.1 falls behind Eric Kramer (80.7), Jim McMahon (80.4) and Jim Miller (76.3).