Chip Kelly, Mathis Address Release

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Evan Mathis didn’t want to play for the Eagles at his current salary, so Chip Kelly cut him loose.

That was the explanation Kelly gave to the assembled media prior to the start of minicamp Tuesday.

“We were asked by his agent for a release on multiple occasions,” he said. “We weren’t going to come to a conclusion in terms of a contract extension, we weren’t going to extend any contract or adjust any contract, so we granted what his agent asked for.”

Mathis has been trying to find a way out of his five-year, $25.5 million deal since last year. His agent Drew Rosenhaus had been granted permission  to seek out a trade for his client in each of the last two offseasons, but nothing materialized. The difference between this year and last year, Kelly said, is that Rosenhaus was now asking the team to release the All-Pro guard.

Mathis had a slightly different version of the story. He said that Rosenhaus asked the team back in March, “If you’re not going to redo his deal, why wouldn’t you release him?”

So it wasn’t a request/demand, exactly?

“Not to my knowledge,” said Mathis. “And I don’t believe it was discussed any time recently.”

Kelly said he didn’t know if Mathis would have played the year out under his current deal. According to Mathis, he would have. Asked if the plan was to attend minicamp, training camp and play the season out with the Eagles if he wasn’t cut, Mathis responded: “Yes.”

“I can block stuff out and not let it be a distraction,” he told CSN Philly. “I missed voluntary stuff, but I was still working hard. It doesn’t mean I was going to be a bad apple. I would never do that.”

As for timing of the release, the team feels that they had exhausted all their trade options. Kelly said that he wanted to give Mathis an opportunity to latch on with a new team prior to minicamp.

“I’m not going to hold guys out. That’s just not the deal. If he didn’t want to be here and he wants a release, we granted him his release. We moved on, they moved on. I hope things really work out for Evan.”

Asked about how this impacts their depth, Kelly said: “We are obviously down a good football player but we’re confident in the guys we have, and that’s why we made the decision we made.”

“I think Allen Barbre is an outstanding football player, he just got hurt at the beginning of the year last year. Whenever he’s had to play for us he’s played extremely well for us, and I know we’re excited about moving forward with him. And then we’ll see what happens at the other position.”

Kelly said he is not concerned about the precedent a move like this could set, saying, “We deal with every contract on an individual basis.”