Despite buzz around the league to the contrary, a Rams source tells Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (on Twitter) that St. Louis has no interest in offensive lineman Evan Mathis. Instead, the Rams would prefer to allow their young players – including their young offensive line – to grow together.
Mathis, released by the Eagles earlier this offseason, is considered one of the league’s best interior linemen. In 2014, despite playing just 608 offensive snaps, the former third-round pick ranked as the league’s best left guard, performing particularly well as a run blocker, according to Pro Football Focus’ data (subscription required). PFF had previously graded Mathis as the NFL’s No. 1 guard in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
The Rams on the other hand have struggle blocking between the tackles, and haven’t been so great on the outside either. Last year’s No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson was settling in at guard before the injury to Jake Long forced him to accelerate his transition to left tackle. Rodger Saffold will likely start next to him on the left side, and is the best guard on the roster. Right guard is up for grabs, and the team moved on from center Scott Wells so will be looking at a first-time starter there as well.
It would be tough to argue that Mathis wouldn’t be able to improve the Rams’ roster short-term, and he could be especially useful as St. Louis believes it could have an opportunity to make a move in the NFC West with both the Cardinals and 49ers struggling to keep pace with the Seahawks for division supremacy.
However, Mathis will turn 34 years old during the season, and most teams are probably hesitant to give him a long-term contract. Even if he gets the Rams closer to a playoff berth this year, for a team with a young core Mathis doesn’t necessarily fit the mold. Of course, the Rams’ competitiveness in 2015 all depends on the performance of his former teammate Nick Foles.
St. Louis has a number of young bodies they can throw out there to try to solidify the offensive line. Although they may not have interest right now, injuries and poor performance from their rookies in training camp could change minds in that front office. With the right circumstances and price, Mathis could find himself fitting in with the team later this summer if he doesn’t find a landing spot before then.