Kelly, Mathis And the O-line Situation

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

A back-and-forth between Chip Kelly and the media about the state of the offensive line eventually landed on Evan Mathis. The All-Pro guard is unhappy with his contract and has chosen to stay away for the beginning of voluntary workouts.

Does Chip Kelly expect him back eventually?

“That’s a question for Evan,” Kelly replied.

If there is uncertainty about Mathis’ intentions, how do you decide whether trading him is the answer?

“We have never had an offer for Evan so there is nothing to take,” Kelly replied. “Evan has been available to trade for two years now and we have never had an offer for him. That’s through his agent [Drew Rosenhaus] and him. They’ve asked us if he can renegotiate a contract and see what he can get and we’ve obliged them with that, but we’ve never had an offer on him.”

Shortly after Kelly’s comments became public, Mathis posted the following on Twitter.

This should end well.

The 33-year-old Mathis has two years remaining on his contract. He is scheduled to make a base salary of $5.5 million this year and $6 million next season. Given that he’s been working the trade angle for two offseasons now, Mathis is clearly frustrated with the current set-up. And it would be no surprise if Kelly is growing tired of the act.

Problem is, there is not a great solution here at present. With no trade offers coming in, the only way Mathis gets his wish is if the Kelly agrees to cut him. But the Eagles already parted with one starting guard this offseason. Can they really afford to get rid of another? Probably not, especially considering that they did not use a draft pick on an O-lineman for the second straight year.

“It’s not that we don’t think we need to create depth in the offensive line, but as you look at it right now, the only offensive lineman we’ve lost is Todd [Herremans],” said Kelly. “We feel like getting Allen Barbre back off of his injury, [Matt] Tobin and [Andrew] Gardner played really well for us there and we’ve got some young guys that we’re still continuing to develop; Julian Vandervelde is back, there are some guys there that have played for us. But it’s just kind of how it fell.”

The first draft pick of the Kelly era was tackle Lane Johnson. The Eagles have made 20 picks since then, and none of them have been offensive linemen.

There were some decent options as Day 3 opened but a run on offensive linemen quickly took the likes T.J. Clemmings (Pitt), Tre’ Jackson (Florida State) and Arie Kouandijo (Alabama) off the board. Shortly thereafter, the Eagles decided to trade their pick to Detroit for a third-rounder in ’16.

Did that run influence their decision?

“There were a couple guys there, a couple that you look at, and that’s just kind of how it works out,” Kelly said. “There was a run in the second round, there were some guys that we were really excited about, but they went before we picked also, so that’s just kind of how it goes.”

By the time they got back on the clock in the sixth round, the O-line portion of their board was depleted, Kelly said.