Photo by: Bleacher Report
Former Alabama standout Evan Mathis was cut from the Philadelphia Eagles on June 11, 2015, due to contract disputes. He and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, wanted to upgrade his contract with the Eagles after a successful year in 2013, but the two parties couldn’t come to an agreement. Mathis wasn’t satisfied with the five-year, $25.5 million deal he signed on July 31, 2011, and he decided to not attend OTAs until Philadelphia provided him with a deal.
Mathis, 33, is a free agent, however, ten teams have shown interest in the two-time Pro Bowl offensive guard.
Mathis earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2013, and is a three-time All-Pro by Pro Football Focus (2011, 2012, 2013). He was rated as the second best guard in the National Football League last season, despite missing seven games because of injuries. Mathis was ranked No. 88 in the Top 100 players of 2014. He’s played in 114 career games, scratching out 78 starts.
The Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos are six of the 10 teams that are making a push for Mathis.
Miami made some huge moves this offseason.
It signed fifth-year starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill through 2020, and acquired defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh from the Detroit Lions with a six-year, $114 million contract ($60 million guaranteed). Miami got veteran wide receiver Gregg Jennings from the Minnesota Vikings, and selected former Louisville wide out DeVante Parker in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Left tackle Branden Allen is recovering from a knee injury he sustained in November of last season. The Dolphins have a lot of young talent that’s competing for offensive guard spots, including Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner, Jamil Douglas and Jeff Likenbach.
Miami’s head coach Joe Philbin likes Mathis, but doesn’t think the franchise will be able to bid high enough for the 10-year veteran. The Dolphins need a solid offensive guard to protect Tannehill and open up its run game. Collectively, Miami’s offensive guards are set to make $2.41 million next season (base salary), if everyone makes the 53-man roster.
This amount is significantly less than what Mathis was getting in Philadelphia, $5.5 million per year. The Dolphins’ cap space will roughly be $9.5 million this season. It will be interesting to see whether Miami can land Mathis.
New York Giants’ zone-blocking scheme fits Mathis.
New York Giants’ offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo wants to the run the football. Mathis’ exceptional football as a pull guard or head-on blocker would work in McAdoo’s system.
The Giants return running backs Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams.
It acquired Shane Vereen from the New England Patriots on Mar. 10, 2015. A timetable hasn’t been set on left tackle Will Beatty’s return. New York drafted Ereck Flowers from the University of Miami (FL) as an offensive tackle. It has a versatile lineman in Geoff Schwartz, but signing Mathis gives the Giants an option of moving Schwartz to tackle and putting Mathis at guard.
Seattle Seahawks lost two valuable offensive linemen.
Seattle is a two-time NFC Conference champion (2013, 2014) and a Super Bowl champion in the 2013 season, but it accomplished both feats with two solid offensive linemen, center Max Unger and offensive guard James Carpenter.
The Seahawks traded Unger to the New Orleans Saints for tight end Jimmy Graham, and lost Carpenter to the New York Jets. Seattle’s identity under head coach Pete Carroll is defense and a strong run game. It returns Marshawn Lynch, along with Christine Michael and Robert Turbin to its backfield this fall.
The Seahawks return three offensive tackles, Russell Okung, Justin Britt and Alvin Bailey, but signing Mathis gives it a proven, versatile guard. The Seahawks will have roughly $10 million in cap space to work with.
Oakland Raiders’ general manager Reggie McKenzie is willing to pay for Mathis.
Oakland wants to become a competitor in the AFC again. The last time the Raiders made a playoff appearance was in 2002. Head coach Jack Del Rio put together a solid draft this year, but needs to build on it by getting a veteran offensive lineman.
Khalif Barnes and Gabe Jackson both return to the front line this season. Oakland drafted offensive guard Jon Feliciana from Miami and offensive lineman Anthony Morris from Tennessee. It wants to continue developing second-year quarterback Derek Carr.
Oakland drafted former Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, and acquired Michael Crabtree from the San Francisco 49ers. It has five running backs on the roster, but the battle may come down to Latavius Murray and Trent Richardson. According to sportrac.com, the Raiders have a little over $9 million ($9, 239,825) in dead cap space for the 2015 season.
First-year head coach Gary Kubiak needs a veteran on Denver’s offensive line.
Evan Mathis, who stands at 6-foot-5, 302 pounds, would be a perfect fit in Denver.
The Broncos will be without left tackle Ryan Clady for this season, and veteran Shelley Smith has underperformed. Right guard Louis Vasquez is the lone consistent veteran returning, while practice squad player Ben Garland has been penciled in at left guard. Denver drafted former Florida center Max Garcia to play left guard, but he will need time to develop.
C.J. Anderson, Monte Ball and Ronnie Hillman all return to Denver’s backfield. The Broncos must develop a balanced run game, as well as protect quarterback Peyton Manning.
Denver has a little over $1.2 million in dead cap space ($1,203,190). It has a little over $7 million in its estimated Top 51 cap space ($7,662,424).
First-year offensive coordinator Greg Roman wants to build Buffalo around QB EJ Manuel.
Buffalo has some talented quarterbacks on its roster, including Tyrod Taylor and Matt Cassell, but offensive coordinator Greg Roman said EJ Manuel will have a “clean slate.”
The Bills acquired running back LeSean McCoy from Philadelphia, and return Fred Jackson and Boobie Dixon to its roster this season. It drafted former Florida State running back Karlos Williams and Louisville’s offensive guard John Miller. Head coach Rex Ryan is widely-known for being defensive minded, however, Buffalo will need more of an offensive appeal in order to compete with the New England Patriots and others in the AFC East in 2015.
Cyrus Kouandjio, Chris Williams, Eric Wood and Richie Incognito all return this season to Buffalo’s offensive line, but signing Mathis gives the Bills versatility at tackle and guard.
Buffalo has a little over $7 million in cap space (dead cap, estimated top 51), according to sportrac.com.
Stephen M. Smith is a staff writer and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.