Wake-Up Call: Why A Mathis Holdout Is Realistic

mathis

With Lane Johnson likely facing a suspension, the Eagles could do without another issue along the offensive line. But one could be coming.

Evan Mathis is still in search of a new deal and there is reason to think that he may not be in attendance to start training camp. Paul Domowitch mentioned this possibility in a recent article:

Something else to keep an eye on: Evan Mathis, the team’s 32-year-old All-Pro left guard, hasn’t made it a secret he’s not happy with the contract he signed 2 years ago. He attended all of the team’s voluntary spring OTAs and the mandatory June minicamp, but it wouldn’t be a shock if the Drew Rosenhaus client was a no-show at NovaCare on July 25.

Word first surfaced at the owners meetings in March that  Rosenhaus had approached management about re-doing the guard’s contract. The Eagles declined and suggested that Rosenhaus look for trade partners for his client. There were some exploratory talks with other teams but nothing ever got serious.

“I think that’s just the nature of what our league is like. In professional sports there is a short amount of time that guys have to play this game and they’re trying to get what they can, and I certainly understand where they’re coming from,” said Chip Kelly. “And part of being the general manager, cap people, is fitting that all together.

“Do I worry about Evan? No. Evan, you talk about go-to-work lunch pail mentality, that’s Evan Mathis. I don’t worry about Evan from that standpoint.”

Mathis showed up for the offseason conditioning program and did not allow the business end  to affect his performance this spring. But that doesn’t mean that the financial matter has been resolved.

The 32-year-old signed a five-year, $25 million contract in March of 2012 that included $6 million in guarantees. Three years remain on the deal and all of the guaranteed cash is gone.

Mathis has started 47 of a possible 48 games since joining the Eagles in 2011. He has played at a high level during his time in Philly and this past season was named First-Team All-Pro and was selected to the Pro Bowl.

His 2014 salary of $5.15 million is seventh among guards according to spotrac. Mathis’ guaranteed money, though, pales in comparison to some of his peers. Tampa’s Carl Nicks, for instance, has $25 million in guarantees; Logan Mankins $21.5 million; Andy Levitre of the Titans has $13 million; Jahri Evans of the Saints gets $12 million; and so on. Meanwhile, line mates Jason Peters ($15.75 million guaranteed)  and Jason Kelce ($13 million guaranteed) were just taken care of.

The Eagles are probably hesitant to rip up a contract that was signed just two years ago. Mathis wants to be paid fair-market value. And so here we stand.

The 10-year vet isn’t one to make waves. Then again, holding out is one of the few tools a player has to try and apply pressure on the employer. As it so happens, his leverage is arguably increased in this scenario given the Johnson situation. They can’t afford to have further disturbances at the offensive line position, which was viewed as one of the primary strengths of this team. But that could be what they’re facing.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Sheil projects the Eagles’ defensive depth chart, position by position.

“Absurd that guys who make that money take stupid chances.” What they’re saying.

Sheil examines the state of the offensive line if the Lane Johnson suspension holds up.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com disproves the theory that Nick Foles‘ numbers were inflated because he never took any shots down the field:

OK, so Prisco’s argument here seems to be that Foles is Kevin Kolb 2.0, AKA “Checkdown Charlie.” Didinger was then quick to note a pair of stats that completely obliterate that argument.

Didinger responded, “He was not by any means dinking and dunking the ball here, Pete. I mean, he averaged nine yards per attempt, so the idea that it was a very conservative kind of passing game… not really. I mean, they led the league in 20+ yard plays.”

Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com takes a look at the Eagles’ different options for kick returners:

For the first time in years, the Eagles have no clue who will return punts and kicks for them during the regular season.

“We’ve got a bunch of options, so I’m excited about it,” special teams coach Dave Fipp said. “I think it’s great. It’s better than having none.”

Jackson and Johnson split the Eagles’ punt return duties last year, with neither having much success. Johnson was OK on kickoffs at 25.9, but he’s not expected to make the roster this year.

Overall, the Eagles ranked 25th in the NFL in kick return average last year (21.4) and 27th in punt return average (6.6). They didn’t have a kick return of 50 yards, and they didn’t have a punt return longer than 32 yards.

They have to get better.

COMING UP

Twenty-three days until camp.

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