Evan Mathis knew that holding out was his only real leverage play, and that his leverage grew when Lane Johnson failed his drug test. But he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.
“It was easy for me to sit there and think about it a month ago but when it was getting down closer to the wire, it was not something I could see myself doing really. For multiple reasons. When I was in elementary school and I got sick and I missed a day of school I felt bad because I was behind, and this is not the kind of stuff you want to get behind on,” said Mathis as the team reported to NovaCare for training camp Friday.
"I try to look at it my point of view, try to look at it from their point of view. I didn't want to have a negative impact on the team. I didn't want to send the wrong message to the players, coaches, fans. I look at what I'm doing as doing the right thing in the situation."
Do you think you'll get rewarded for it?
"I have no idea."
Mathis is entering the third year of a five-year, $25 million contract he signed in 2012. His 2014 salary of $5.15 million is seventh among guards according to spotrac. He has no guaranteed money left in the deal, however, and wants a contract that better reflects the current market and his level of production. The Eagles do not want to set a precedent by re-doing a player's deal this early into it. There has been "plenty of communication" between the Eagles and Mathis' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, but it looks like things will stay as they are for now.
Contract issues can lead to distractions and a drop off in play, as the Eagles experienced with DeSean Jackson back in 2011. Mathis says that is not a concern when it comes to him.
"I'm able to put anything on the back burner when it comes to playing football," he said.
"It's not something I've always been able to do. It's something I've developed. Something I've always worked to develop because focus is huge part of this game. You have to stay focused at all times during a game. I used to let stuff creep into my mind, overthink things, now I just simplify it, focus on the task at hand and not think about anything else."
The 32-year-old All-Pro guard said that the prospect of getting fined $30,000 a day if he held out didn't scare him, rather that it came down to doing right by his teammates and coaches.
Mathis was also asked about Johnson, who is suspended for the first four games of the regular season for failing a drug test.
"Obviously that's not a good situation there. Lane did something that was not very smart and paid the price for it. It's not like he was taking something for an extended period of time," he said. "He got caught in a small window doing it, thinking that he was able to take that because he had a prescription. If he would have gone through the proper channels it would have been taken care of but he didn't do that and he'll pay the price for that."