A look at the latest from the NFL’s two West-based divisions:
- Veteran guard Evan Mathis, whom the Eagles released earlier this week, is expected to draw plenty of interest from around the NFL. One team that won’t go after him is the Chiefs, according to ESPN’s Adam Teicher, who notes that they’re loaded with guards and lack the cap space to pursue a high-profile player like Mathis.
- In other Chiefs news, star linebacker Justin Houston is without a contract after leading the league last year with a whopping 22 sacks. One major sticking point in whether he and the Chiefs can reach a deal will come down to the comparable contracts the two sides use with respect to both yearly salary and guaranteed money, tweets ESPN’s Lou Riddick. The Packers’ Clay Matthews leads all 3-4 OLBs in both total contract value ($66MM) and average annual value ($13.2MM). In the event Houston signs Kansas City’s franchise tender, he’ll make just under $13.2MM in 2015.
- Raiders rookie defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr., a second-round pick out of Florida State, has made a positive impression on the team so far. “He’s had a great start to his rookie year,” head coach Jack Del Rio said, per Scott Bair of CSNCaliornia (via Twitter). Bair notes that Edwards has gotten plenty of first-team reps, having been used as both an end and a tackle.
- 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was among the league’s most dominant defenders during the first three years of his career, amassing a prodigious 42 sacks in 43 regular-season games. Smith’s numbers declined last season, though, as he finished with just two sacks in seven games. However, Smith has been outstanding under new defensive coordinator Eric Mangini, according to Joe Fann of the 49ers’ official website, and is looking to return to his 2011-13 form. “I don’t think I played to my level, and I want to do everything it takes to play consistently at my level,” Smith said. “I know that when I’m playing consistently and I’m on my game, I can’t be stopped.”
- This year’s Cardinals could be the deepest they’ve been in a while and are built to make a run at Super Bowl contention, writes Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic. The club has so much quality depth that Cards general manager Steve Keim is shopping their fringe players around the league instead of looking to release them outright, per Bickley.