This lingering Evan Mathis situation is worth keeping an eye on because it is legitimately a cause for concern. Will he still be on the team come September?
As I’m sure you’ve heard, Mathis is a no-show this week at voluntary OTAs. Yes, they’re voluntary but this isn’t the case of Mathis picking out sconces instead of practicing with his teammates.
For two years now he has been unhappy with his contract status and has wanted to redo his 5-year, $25 Million deal. The Eagles, of course, aren’t budging as Mathis is set to earn $5.5 Million this season.
When Chip Kelly publicly stated that Mathis has been available for trade the past two seasons but they haven’t received an offer, Mathis may have took that as somewhat of a slight. After Kelly’s comment, Mathis posted a one-word Tweet that was seemingly a response to Kelly’s comment:
“Deez” usually means “deez nuts” or in slang the phrase means “whatever” or “F-that”, etc. The timing of Mathis’ tweet certainly makes it seem it was intended as a response to Kelly’s comment. But, of course, it was just an ambiguous one-word tweet.
In any case, if Mathis ends up skipping the mandatory mini-camp in mid-June, it could increase the likelihood that Mathis’ tenure with the team will come to an end before September. The question is whether or not the culture-conscious Kelly will tire of this and just end up cutting Mathis.
It’s not that Mathis doesn’t fit the culture-oriented profile, but if Kelly thinks his lingering frustration over his contract will cause tension or become a distraction, he could choose to simply let Mathis go.
And that could end up being a gut punch to the offensive line as a group.
The Eagles replaced several players and upgraded several positions this offseason, but much to my chagrin, the OL wasn’t part of that.
That’s why I was highly surprised when the Eagles chose not to select an offensive lineman in the draft. In free agency, they showed some interest in Orlando Franklin but it appeared that interest was limited.
The Eagles showed a good amount of pre-draft interest in OL prospects. With Todd Herremans gone and not much promising depth, it seemed to be a no-brainer that they’d draft at least one guy.
Unlike some folks, I don’t have a high degree of confidence in Allen Barbre. The main reason for that is not because I’ve seen enough of his play to determine he’s not good, it’s because he apparently hasn’t been good enough to stick on many rosters throughout his career.
The Eagles are his fifth team in eight years and he has just eight career starts. He was slated to start at Right Tackle in place of the suspended Lane Johnson last year but that lasted less than one game as Barbre suffered a severe high ankle sprain that knocked him out for the year.
And that’s been his problem really…he can’t stay healthy and can’t stay on teams very long.
So, how good is he, really? Is he really a reliable starting caliber Guard? Will he be an improvement over Herremans? Will he be a liability?
The problem is, we don’t know. And not knowing, to me, means we better have a good contingency plan…which we don’t have because we have neglected the OL in the past two drafts.
Matt Tobin? He’s another complete unknown. “Promising” maybe, but far and away from being a sure thing. Andrew Gardner, same thing.
And now there’s the possibility that we could lose another starting lineman? That could be disastrous.
It’s also why Mathis might feel he has the most leverage he’ll ever have right now and could force Chip’s hand.
During the draft when the Eagles were on the clock in Round 2 after giving up both 5th round picks to move up five slots, I knew it was going to be either Eric Rowe or Jake Fisher. When they took Rowe, I was excited.
When they were on the clock in Round 3, I thought for sure they’d go OL there. Then they announced Hicks as the pick. I was shocked and disappointed.
Hicks could turn out to be a fine player but the fact is they drafted a guy at a position where they currently already had three starters for two spots. Here’s who they could have drafted instead of Hicks (and nobody would have complained about third round value)…
G/T Daryl Williams
OT T.J. Clemmings
G Tre Jackson
It was seemingly that run of linemen that led to the Eagles trading out of the 4th round. While that was a decent trade in garnering a 2016 third-rounder, I think I would have kept the pick and selected either Mark Glowinski, Andrew Donnal or Terry Poole at that point.
Time will tell if the Eagles made the right choices during the third and fourth rounds.
Alas, we’re left with uncertainty along the OL for this year and beyond. If Mathis stays, that will certainly help. But, if he leaves, well, it could get ugly.
And for a team that appears to be ready to grind out a running game with two running backs with injury histories and protect a new QB with an even lengthier injury history, losing offensive linemen without adequate replacements is bad for business.