An acrimonious relationship in Philadelphia has come to an end today, as the Eagles are releasing veteran guard Evan Mathis, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Since Mathis is a vested veteran, he’ll immediately hit the open market, and will be free to sign with any team.
The move comes as something of a surprise since Mathis is considered one of the league’s best guards. 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.
Still, the relationship between head coach Chip Kelly and Mathis never seemed great — the Pro Bowl lineman had been the subject of trade rumors for the last couple years, and had yet to report to Philadelphia’s offseason program in 2015. A combination of his age (33) and his salary ($5.5MM in 2015) may have scared off potential suitors, though Mathis did receive a little trade interest prior to the draft this year. While the Bills, Vikings, Dolphins, Rams, and Patriots are among the teams that have been linked to Mathis so far this offseason, I expect that list to grow significantly now that he’ll be a free agent.
For Kelly and the Eagles, Mathis becomes the latest in a growing list of Pro Bowl offensive players released or traded by the team in the last couple years, following DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy out the door. Heading into the 2015 campaign, it appears that Allen Barbre will get the first opportunity to replace Mathis as the Eagles’ starting left guard.
Mathis will count for $1MM against the Eagles’ cap in 2015, as the team reduces his cap hit by $5.5MM. Because he was a post-June 1 cut, Philadelphia will also carry $1MM in dead money for Mathis in 2016.