Prior to signing a one-year pact with the Cardinals this offseason, guard Evan Mathis was contemplating retirement. He has enjoyed a long and successful career, he won a Super Bowl ring with the Broncos in 2015, and he has nothing left to prove. Ultimately, however, he decided to resume his career with Arizona.
But Mathis suffered an ankle injury during Thursday night’s win against San Francisco, and the team placed him on IR yesterday. Even if healthy, Mathis cannot be activated for at least eight games, and head coach Bruce Arians said earlier this week that the team is considering bringing either Chris Johnson or Tyvon Branch off IR. Of course, teams can only bring one player from IR back onto the active roster, so if Johnson or Branch were to return, Mathis could not come back.
As such, his career could be over. ESPN’s Adam Caplan asked Mathis about the possibility of playing next season, and Mathis replied, “I’m only going to play if someone lets me be a third down pass rusher” (Twitter link). Which means, obviously, that he does not currently plan on playing again.
Needless to say, a lot can change between now and the start of the 2017 season, but all of the reasons that made Mathis consider retirement earlier this year remain valid. The 34-year-old Alabama product has played in 134 regular season games since entering the league in 2005, starting 93 of them. He has been selected to two Pro Bowl squads and was named a First-Team All-Pro in 2013. After suiting up for the Panthers, Bengals, and Dolphins over the first half of his career, Mathis finally came into his own with the Eagles during his age-30 season and was a mainstay on Philadelphia’s offensive line from 2011-14. And, despite playing through various injuries for the Super Bowl champs last season, Mathis still graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 run-blocking guard. PFF ranked him as the ninth-best run-blocking guard this year before he succumbed to injury.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images