The Philadelphia Eagles had no shortcomings making news during the NFL offseason. The most recent storyline surrounding the team involved a contractual stare-down with offensive guard Evan Mathis, who was scheduled to earn $13.5 million over the next two years. Much to the chagrin of general manager/head coach Chip Kelly, the two-time Pro Bowl selection was seeking an extension and a pay raise.
Head up the Interstate and the player that Philadelphia trashed just might be a welcomed treasure in the New Jersey Meadowlands. Unable to find any takers, the Eagles released Mathis, who will be seeking his fifth organization. With some talented, yet unproven players on their offensive line, there’s certainly a need for a proven commodity like Mathis. However, what appears to be a match made in heaven, could be met with a couple of stumbling blocks preventing this deal from becoming a reality.
For starters, Mathis is not only seeking a multi-year deal but he also wants to be paid amongst the best guards in the NFL. The Giants are looking to get younger and healthier along their offensive line, adding a soon-to-be 34-year old coming off a season in which he played only nine games isn’t the kind of player that General Manager Jerry Reese shells out money to. Especially when you look ahead to free agency next year, the Giants will be attempting to re-sign quarterback Eli Manning, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, and cornerback Prince Amukamara. Unless they could obtain Mathis on a one-year deal, it seems highly unlikely that Reese would make this signing a priority over the others.
Secondly, what the Giants need right now, perhaps more than anything else, is a veteran presence at left tackle. Right now, the Giants are counting on their 1st round draft pick, Eric Flowers, to be their man. Flowers has been playing left tackle during OTA practices, while veteran and free agent pick-up Marshall Newhouse has been starting at the right side. Although there’s optimism with Flowers, the reality is the Giants do not have any quality depth at left tackle. Flowers is a talented prospect, but few if any thought he’d be a starting left tackle nearly the moment he was drafted since, among other things, his technique and hand placement needs work and Flowers needs to get used to the speed he’ll see on the left side. The Giants have to find themselves some insurance in case Flowers truly struggles at left tackle in the early going. Perhaps the Giants simply swap Flowers and Newhouse if Flowers does indeed struggle when they put the pads on during training camp the preseason, but based on Newhouse’s recent struggles and lack of playing time the last couple of seasons, it seems clear that he isn’t the answer at left tackle, and that’s the problem. Although the Giants don’t have the best guards in the league, they seem more than ready to move forward with what they have there, while the same cannot be said about their situation at left tackle.
What if the Giants decide to go against the grain and do something sudden and sign Mathis? For one thing the addition of Mathis would keep the inconsistent veteran guard John Jerry off the field, which would likely be improvement and it would obviously add another quality starter to the offensive line. While the addition of Mathis and figuring out where to play him and the rest of their starters would surely entice Tom Coughlin and the Giants, the type of contract Mathis is looking for is simply more than what the Giants would be willing to give. As Jerry Reese often says, the Giants will “investigate everything,” and contact Mathis’ representatives if they haven’t already, but unless he is willing to sign a deal that is far more team friendly, don’t expect Mathias to be in blue this season.