Phidarian Mathis

Commanders Place LB Cody Barton, G Saahdiq Charles On IR, Activate DT Phidarian Mathis

On a busy day of roster shuffling for the Commanders, a pair of starters have been shut down for an extended stretch while a notable depth defender has been cleared to return. Washington announced on Saturday that linebacker Cody Barton and left guard Saahdiq Charles have been placed on injured reserve, while defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis has been activated from IR.

Barton suffered a high ankle sprain in the Commanders’ Week 7 loss to the Giants, and the injury will require a lengthy recovery period. The 26-year-old will miss at least the next four weeks as a result of the IR move. That will interrupt his debut season in the nation’s capital, which has come after four years in Seattle. Barton signed a one-year deal worth a fully guaranteed $3.5MM in free agency, and he has seen the largest workload of his career with the Commanders.

The former third-rounder’s defensive snap share sits at 88% this season, and he has made 61 tackles amidst the uptick in playing time. The latter figure represents the second-largest of Barton’s career, though he will be unable to match last season’s mark (136) given the time is now slated to miss. Washington has David Mayo and Khaleke Hudson in place at the LB spot, and head coach Ron Rivera has indicated a number of other players will get a look in Barton’s absence.

Losing Charles for at least one month will hinder a Commanders O-line which has drawn signficant criticism this season, as quarterback Sam Howell has taken a league-leading 40 sacks. Charles, who has previously seen time at right guard and right tackle, has played exclusively at the LG spot in 2023. The 2020 fourth-rounder has taken on full-time starting duties for the first time this year, though he has earned an underwhelming PFF grade of 59.1 so far. Between that, and the month-long absence guaranteed by today’s news, Charles’ free agent stock is set to take a hit. Chris Paul and Ricky Stromberg are the likely replacements available to Washington at left guard.

Mathis’ activation comes as little surprise, as he was designated for return earlier this week. The 2022 second-rounder was limited to just one game as a rookie due to an meniscus tear, and his return to the lineup (following a separate injury) has been long-awaited. The Alabama product will look to carve out a rotational role on the inside behind the team’s high-priced duo of Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne.

Bringing back Mathis will use up one of the Commanders’ IR activations, leaving them with six for the remainder of the season. Two of those will be required to bring Barton and Charles back into the lineup when healthy. In the meantime, Washington will proceed with their replacements through an important stretch on the schedule.

Commanders Designate DT Phidarian Mathis For Return

The Commanders did not have much of a chance to deploy their set of Alabama alums at defensive tackle last season. Phidarian Mathis, a 2022 second-round pick, was lost for the season in Week 1. After another injury during training camp this year, Mathis encountered another delay.

But the team is on track to have Mathis back soon. The Commanders designated him for return from IR on Wednesday, starting a 21-day activation window. Mathis not being activated in that time would result in a season-ending IR stay, but considering last year’s No. 47 overall pick returned to practice after last September’s meniscus tear, he should be expected to return following a late-summer calf malady.

Mathis did not land on Washington’s active/PUP list in July, which made an IR move necessary since he had already begun practicing with the team. The Commanders have used one of their eight allotted IR activations this season, moving defensive end Efe Obada back to the 53-man roster. It would appear Mathis will join Obada soon, but things have changed a bit on Washington’s D-line since Mathis last appeared in a game.

Although Mathis worked as a backup behind Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne to start last season, 2022’s No. 47 overall pick was viewed as a potential Payne replacement. Contract talks between Payne and the Commanders did not produce a deal ahead of the 2018 first-rounder’s fifth-year option season, and with Allen inked long term, Payne entered his contract year in limbo. But he delivered his best season in 2022, registering a career-high 11.5 sacks. Washington franchise-tagged Payne in March and extended him soon after, starting a spree of D-tackle deals this offseason.

With both Payne and Allen signed to lucrative extensions, Mathis does not have a near-future road map to the starting lineup. Still, Mathis represents a potential high-end rotational option behind Washington’s longtime DT duo. The meniscus tear occurred four plays into Mathis’ career, but his return in time for training camp brought a positive development.

Washington heads into the trade deadline with a similar question at defensive end compared to its 2022 D-tackle quandary, with neither Montez Sweat nor Chase Young signed beyond this season. The team wants to hold onto both players but features a foggy outlook on the edge. Mathis’ presence offers additional security inside, however, and the team should find out more about the second-year DT’s capabilities soon.

Commanders Place DT Phidarian Mathis, DE Efe Obada On IR

Phidarian Mathis will end up missing 20 of his first 21 NFL games. After going down in Week 1 of last season, the former second-round pick is back on IR. Washington also moved fellow defensive lineman Efe Obada to IR.

The third defensive tackle out of Alabama on Washington’s active roster, Mathis missed all of his rookie season due to a knee injury that required surgery. That is not behind this injury designation. Mathis returned to the field during the Commanders’ preseason slate but sustained a calf injury.

This designation will sideline Mathis and Obada for the season’s first four games. In 2022, the NFL reintroduced a limit on how many players could return from injured reserve in a season. After teams could bring an unlimited number of players off IR during the 2020 and ’21 seasons, they are now capped at eight such activations. Mathis and Obada are now part of that roster math for the NFC East franchise.

Washington’s Mathis pick — at No. 47 overall — pointed to Daron Payne moving on in 2023. But Mathis went down in Week 1 of last season, playing only three defensive snaps before the knee injury. Mathis came into his rookie year behind fellow Alabama D-tackle alums Payne and Jonathan Allen, and Payne used his contract year to score a monster payday — four years, $90MM — after receiving the franchise tag. The Commanders now have all three ex-Crimson Tide interior D-linemen signed for at least three more seasons. But Mathis’ career remains on pause.

Obada, 31, is dealing with a patella tendon injury, Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post tweets. He re-signed with the Commanders on a one-year, $2MM deal this offseason. The former Panthers and Bills edge defender is positioned to play behind the other two ex-first-rounders on a loaded Commanders D-line — Montez Sweat and Chase Young — but his season will start late as well. Obada caught on with Washington last year and registered four sacks. He joins Shaka Toney, whom the NFL handed a full-season gambling suspension, as auxiliary pass rushers out of the mix in Washington to start this season.

These transactions will allow for the re-signings of interior O-lineman Tyler Larsen and defensive tackle Abdullah Anderson. Both players were bumped off Washington’s roster when the team cut down to 53 on Tuesday. Larsen, who has made 11 starts for Washington over the past two years, had re-signed earlier this offseason. As a vested veteran, he passed through waivers and waited for the team to sort through some roster gymnastics. With Mathis and Obada off the roster, Washington will bring back the recently cut veterans.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/12/22

Here are Monday’s minor moves:

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Los Angeles Chargers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Robinson has been mostly a rotational defensive end with the Seahawks, but the Syracuse product has five sacks in his two seasons. Robinson suffered a knee injury in Seattle’s preseason finale. He can return after four games, though teams only have eight IR-return slots — way up from the pre-COVID NFL but down from the 2020 and ’21 unlimited IR-return setup — this season.

The Seahawks will be without their primary long snapper, Tyler Ott, on Monday night. Ott is out with a shoulder injury. Tinker has been an NFL snapper since 2013, and the veteran specialist has experience with Seahawks kicker Jason Myers. The duo played together in Jacksonville during the mid-2010s.

Commanders DT Phidarian Mathis To Undergo Season-Ending Surgery

The Commanders were left with injury concerns along the defensive line after yesterday’s game. One of the top young members of the unit will not be returning in 2022. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that rookie Phidarian Mathis suffered a meniscus tear which will require season-ending surgery (Twitter link). 

Mathis went down during the first quarter of his regular season debut; his reaction at the time of the injury suggested that he would be sidelined for a significant period of time. The fact that he will, for all intents and purposes, miss his entire rookie campaign is a significant blow for him individually and the team in general.

Across a four-year career at Alabama, Mathis become increasingly productive with each passing season. As a junior, he began to show pass-rush potential with five tackles for loss. Last year, he took another major step forward with nine sacks and 10.5 TFLs. That level of development made him a second-round pick, and one who projects to have a key role in Washington for years to come.

The 6-4, 312-pounder was in line for a rotational role in 2022, but the uncertainty surrounding Daron Payne‘s contract future left open the possibility that Mathis could become a starter next year. Even if Payne departs in free agency, this injury will stall Mathis’ NFL development considerably. For the rest of this season, at least, Washington still has Jonathan Allen and Daniel Wise as internal options along the d-line.

Allen also suffered an injury yesterday, though he described it as “minor.” Nevertheless, head coach Ron Rivera confirmed that the team is considering “several names” with respect to potential additions (Twitter links via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post). Those could come in the form of a practice squad promotion whereby David Bada would be brought up to the 53-man roster, or an outside acquisition. Either way, moves are likely to be made with increased urgency given the seriousness of Mathis’ injury.

Week 1 Injury Roundup: Butker, Jones, Higgins, Rookies

Early in its Week 1 matchup against the Cardinals, Kansas City watched their kicker get carted off the field after Harrison Butker slipped on the kickoff following the team’s opening scoring drive, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. The injury brought on speculation that Chiefs safety Justin Reid may be forced to step in for kicks.

Fortunately, Butker’s injury wasn’t serious enough to keep him permanently out of the game as the sixth-year kicker made his way back onto the field at the end the second half to attempt (and convert) a 54-yard field goal. Still, the Chiefs did play it safe with Butker, calling on Reid to attempt two extra points following Butker’s slip. Reid was successful on his first extra point attempt but missed his second, likely leading to Butker’s return on the field.

Butker kicked the extra points for the remainder of the game, but Kansas City did elect to hold him off the field for kickoffs, letting Reid serve as the kickoff specialist for the rest of the day.

Here are a few other injury notes from around the first week of NFL games, starting with today’s matchup down by South Beach:

  • In a rough opening road trip for the Patriots, quarterback Mac Jones was not made available to the media as he was instructed to go to the X-ray room with a back injury, according to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe. The x-rays turned out to be negative, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, but the team will seek further evaluation on his back injury when they return to Foxborough. It’s unclear at what point in the game Jones suffered the injury, but the 24-year-old completed the game without visible issue.
  • Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins exited the game versus the Steelers today with a concussion after receiving a big hit in the second quarter, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Star receiver Ja’Marr Chase produced as expected, but running back Joe Mixon and new tight end Hayden Hurst had to step up in the passing game with Higgins out. If the concussion keeps Higgins out next week, as well, the Bengals will depend on Tyler Boyd, Mike Thomas, Trent Taylor, and Stanley Morgan to make up for Higgins’ lost production.
  • Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season saw three second-round rookies go down with injuries. The Commanders added one big piece to their defense this offseason in former-Alabama defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis. In the first quarter of NFL play for the rookie, Mathis went down awkwardly on his left leg, according to Charean Williams of NBC Sports, and did not return to the game. Mathis immediately reached for is knee and showed a flash of anger as the Commanders’ medical staff diagnosed the situation. Mathis isn’t a starter but, if the rookie is forced to miss significant time with the injury, it should mean more snaps for second-year defensive tackle Daniel Wise.
  • The Vikings also saw a second-round pick go down when former-Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth left the game with a quad injury, according to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune. Injuries have plagued the rookie in the past and, if he is forced to miss more time, the Vikings will likely turn to Chandon Sullivan, Kris Boyd, and fellow rookie Akayleb Evans to fill in.
  • The Giants added rookie wideout Wan’Dale Robinson to their list of injured receivers, along with Darius Slayton and Collin Johnson, as he left the game today with a knee injury, according to Dan Salomone of Robinson had leapt ahead of Sterling Shepard to start the game alongside Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney before suffering the injury. The severity of the ailment is unknown for now, but Shepard should be able to step back into a starting role if Robinson is expected to miss a significant amount of time.

Commanders Sign Second-Round DT Phidarian Mathis, Fourth-Round S Percy Butler

The Commanders have come to terms with two defensive draftees. Both second-round defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis and fourth-round safety Percy Butler agreed to terms on their four-year rookie contracts Tuesday. This concludes the Commanders’ draft signings for 2022.

Washington’s decision to select Mathis 47th overall not only floods its interior defensive line with ex-Nick Saban charges, but it inserts uncertainty into Daron Payne‘s future in the nation’s capital.

Mathis is just one year younger than Payne, at 24, despite coming into the league four years later. But he is now signed through 2025, joining Jonathan Allen as Washington DTs inked to long-term deals. Payne is going into a contract year. While Washington has made no secret of its desire to extend Terry McLaurin, Payne extension matters have been much quieter.

Mathis enjoyed a breakout senior year at Alabama, registering nine sacks. Although the 312-pound D-tackle also played a key role for the 2020 national championship Crimson Tide edition, Mathis upped his stock considerably last season. Mathis could mix in as a backup this season, for a Washington team that lost Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle this offseason, but Payne’s contract status will play a major role in his future.

Butler came off the board in the 113th spot. He joins a Commanders team that released veteran safety Landon Collins. The team still has starter Kamren Curl and brought back Bobby McCain in free agency, however. A Louisiana product, Butler figures to provide depth as a rookie.

Here is the 2022 Washington draft class:

Round 1: No. 16 (from Colts through Eagles and Saints) Jahan Dotson, WR (Penn State) (signed)
Round 2: No. 47 (from Colts) Phidarian Mathis, DT (Alabama) (signed)
Round 3: No. 98 (from Saints) Brian Robinson, RB (Alabama) (signed)
Round 4: No. 113 Percy Butler, S (Louisiana) (signed)
Round 5: No. 144 (from Panthers through Jaguars): Sam Howell, QB (North Carolina) (signed)
Round 5: N0. 149 (from Panthers) Cole Turner, TE (Nevada) (signed)
Round 7: No. 230 Chris Paul, OG (Tulsa) (signed)
Round 7: No. 240 (from Eagles through Colts) Christian Holmes, CB (Oklahoma State) (signed)