Eagles Release Evan Mathis
The Eagles released Evan Mathis on Thursday, league sources confirmed.
The All-Pro guard was unhappy with the five-year, $25.5 million deal he signed back in 2012, and was asking for a raise that paid him closer to what the other top players at his position were making. The Eagles granted agent Drew Rosenhaus permission to seek a trade each of the last two offseasons, but nothing developed.
Mathis stayed away from the voluntary portion of the spring workouts including OTAs, which wrapped Thursday. Next week is the team’s mandatory minicamp. The big question heading in was whether Mathis would show or stand firm and absorb the $60,000 fine. Mathis told us that he did plan on attending minicamp, but does not believe the team was aware of his intentions.
The Eagles, clearly, were ready to move on, and decided to pull the trigger after exhausting their trade options.
Thanks for the memories Philly.
— Evan Mathis (@EvanMathis69) June 11, 2015
Mathis’ (now former) teammates did not exactly go to great lengths to back him up this week. Asked if he’d miss Mathis if he wasn’t part of the equation, Jason Peters replied, “No, I mean, not really. I’ve been playing beside different guys every year, so it doesn’t really matter who is beside me. I just need to get the chemistry with them and get ready for the season.”
Zach Ertz added that when it came to Mathis’ absence, it was “out of sight, out of mind.”
Perhaps they saw the writing on the wall.
“If you kind of go against Chip, I think we’ve seen…If you don’t buy in, we’ve seen what happens,” said Ertz. “Not to say that it’s a threat in any way but we want guys that love the process each and every day whether it’s June 1st or January 1st or February 6th, whatever day the Super Bowl is, we need guys that are going to come in each and every day and work and I think that’s what we’re building right now.”
Mathis, who will turn 34 in November, was scheduled to make $5.5 million this season and $6 million next year. As first reported by Pro Football Talk, the Eagles apparently offered Mathis a bump in 2014 that would have paid him roughly $1 million more per season over the remainder of the contract, but he declined. Per PFT, Mathis was interested in taking that deal this offseason, but the offer was pulled off the table when Kelly took control from Howie Roseman — news that did not sit well with Mathis’ camp.
There was some bad blood brewing, and there was little chance that the Eagles and Mathis would continue their relationship beyond the 2015 season. The decision to cut ties now, though, puts further strain on an offensive line that had questionable depth to begin with.
The Eagles parted ways with Todd Herremans earlier this offseason. There are now two starting guard spots to fill. Allen Barbre has been working at left guard this spring, and appears to be the clear favorite to land Mathis’ old job.
“Right now if we had to play, Al is going to be the starter,” said Peters.
There has been a rotation at right guard, meanwhile, that has included Matt Tobin, Andrew Gardner and Dennis Kelly.
The Eagles have not drafted an offensive linemen in each of the past two drafts. While they do have some nice pieces in Peters, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, there are really no other proven commodities beyond that.
In Mathis, they lose one of the top-rated linemen in the game. An unheralded member of the 2011 “Dream Team” free-agency class, Mathis developed into a standout over the last several years. He was named first-team All-Pro in 2013 and has made the Pro Bowl each of the last two seasons.
The Alabama product suffered an MCL sprain last September and was forced to miss seven games. Injury was not a factor otherwise during his time in Philly, as he started 47 of a possible 48 games from 2011-13.
A third-round pick by Carolina in 2005, the 11-year vet played for the Panthers, Dolphins and Bengals before finding his footing in Philadelphia. He had 22 starts under his belt prior to joining the Eagles, and 56 since.
It will be interesting to see not just how he fares at his new stop, but what kind of pay day he ends up with. At 33, will he be able to land much more than $11.5 million he was scheduled to make over the next two seasons?
Mathis gets a chance to figure out his worth on the open market, and the Eagles can now put the issue behind them. But it’s still very much to be determined whether either side will benefit from this split.