Robert Mathis

This Date In Transactions History: Colts Extend Robert Mathis

The Colts in the 2000s centered their team around their passing attack and pass defense. The least likely member of this cornerstone group became a long-term Colt on this day 13 years ago.

On June 16, 2006, the Colts ensured Robert Mathis, taken with a fifth-round pick out of Alabama A&M three years prior, would play in Indianapolis for many years. They signed the blossoming sack artist to a five-year, $30MM extension (with an $8.1MM signing bonus), which at the time made him one of the top-10 highest-paid defensive ends. That year changed the Colts’ trajectory, and Mathis played a key role in it.

From 2003-05, the Colts deployed Mathis as an off-the-bench defensive end. But he racked up 25.5 sacks (and 17 forced fumbles) in his first three seasons, doing so despite starting only one game. Raheem Brock started as Dwight Freeney‘s counterpart during each of Mathis’ first three seasons, but the Colts moved him to defensive tackle in 2006. Brock remained a Colts fixture up front until 2009, but Freeney and Mathis became the pass rush’s top bastions beginning with Mathis’ ’06 extension.

Interestingly, Mathis received his new deal before Freeney. But the latter’s rookie contract contained more years, and much more money, allowing the Colts to table that extension until 2007. (Freeney signed a six-year, $72MM contract in ’07.) Both players were full-timers for the Colts for the next seven seasons, the first of which doubling as the franchise’s second Super Bowl championship (and first in Indianapolis). In his age-25 season, Mathis led the Super Bowl champion Colts edition in sacks.

Mathis, Freeney, Peyton Manning, Marvin HarrisonReggie Wayne and Jeff Saturday became the linchpins of that Colts era, with the franchise allowing Edgerrin James (franchise-tagged for $8MM in 2005) to walk just prior to the Mathis extension. The Division I-FCS product outlasted all of his peers in Indianapolis.

Although Mathis did not make a Pro Bowl until 2008, the decision to extend him worked out marvelously for the Colts. Mathis went on to play 11 more seasons with the franchise, his 193 games sitting second only to cornerback Eugene Daniel in the Colts’ Indianapolis history. Mathis’ 123 sacks are a Colts record; his 54 forced fumbles are the most of any player in the past 25 years.

AFC Notes: Colts, Funchess, Mathis, Texans, Mills, Bills, Ravens

The Colts made it very clear they were looking for a number two receiver this offseason. Ever since the season ended with a loss to the Chiefs in the second round of the playoffs, the front office and coaching staff had emphasized the need for a consistent second option behind T.Y. Hilton. The Colts mostly rotated lesser-known role players like Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers as their number two last season, and needed to upgrade. When free agency opened they went out and got their guy, signing Devin Funchess to a one-year deal worth up to $13MM.

Speaking to the media from the owners meetings this week, Colts coach Frank Reich revealed he banged the table for Funchess. When GM Chris Ballard first approached Reich about signing Funchess, Reich said he was immediately all-in, according to Zak Keefer of The Indianapolis Star. “I was like, ‘Please, let’s get this guy.’ That was the guy we really wanted to get,” Reich explained. Funchess was up and down during his time with the Panthers, but has always been high on talent. Funchess will provide the Colts’ receiving corp with the big bodied receiver they were lacking opposite the smaller Hilton, and will be a nice weapon for Andrew Luck in 2019. The Colts are clearly confident in his ability to improve his consistency, and Reich seems genuinely excited about the addition.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Speaking of the Colts, Indianapolis is making a notable change to their coaching staff. Robert Mathis will no longer be a full-time coach, according to Keefer. The Colts’ legend had served as an assistant coach helping out with the team’s pass-rushers the past two seasons. Mathis will now transition into a role as a consultant, giving him more time to develop his private training business. Mathis spent 14 years in the NFL, all with the Colts, and racked up 123 sacks. He’s also the league’s all-time leader in forced fumbles.
  • The Texans recently signed Matt Kalil, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily done adding offensive tackles. The team hosted former Bills tackle Jordan Mills on a visit before signing Kalil, but they’re apparently still interested in adding Mills, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle. Wilson writes that Houston has “remained in contact with Mills” and that he’s “still a candidate to potentially join the team.” Offensive line was the team’s main weakness last year, and it looks like they’re trying to add as many pieces as possible. Mills started all 16 games for Buffalo in each of the last three seasons, but graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 70th-best tackle last season.
  • The Bills and Ravens are two teams that could desperately use receiver help, that much isn’t really a secret. Both teams have young quarterbacks in Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson, and they both need to upgrade their receiving corp. They’re both likely to draft a wideout early next month, and they’re each showing interest in one of the top receivers available in the upcoming draft. Buffalo and Baltimore will both meet with Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf ahead of the draft, James Palmer of NFL Network hears (Twitter link). Metcalf blew up the combine with freakish athletic testing, and should go sometime in the first round.

Colts’ Robert Mathis To Retire

Colts defensive end Robert Mathis has announced that he will retire after the 2016 season. That means Sunday’s contest against the Jaguars will be his final NFL game. Robert Mathis (vertical)

[RELATED: Jim Harbaugh A Match For The Colts?]

Mathis, 35, has spent his entire career with the Colts since being selected in the fifth round of the 2003 draft. Across his 14 years (13 seasons) with the Colts, Mathis earned five Pro Bowl nods and one First-Team All-Pro selection. The defensive end will go down as an all-time Colts great, particularly for the first ten years of his career in which he averaged 10.0 sacks per season. In 2013, Mathis led the entire NFL with 19.5 sacks.

Mathis has four sacks and 17 total tackles in 13 games played this season. He also has two forced fumbles and one fumble recovered for a touchdown. The advanced metrics indicate that Mathis has lost a step or three and that this is probably a good time for him to step away from the game. Pro Football Focus ranks Mathis as one of the ten worst qualified edge defenders in the NFL this season.

We here at Pro Football Rumors wish No. 98 nothing but the best in retirement.


Extra Points: Boldin, Hawk, Mathis, Chargers

When I ranked Anquan Boldin as the second-best offensive free agent left on the market, I noted that even as he ages, the veteran receiver continues to maintain consistent production, managing at least 65 receptions in each of the past five seasons, and averaging nearly 1,000 yards and five scores during that period. So why is he still unsigned? Albert Breer of the wanted an answer to that question, and asked a scouting director for a response. The executive’s position on Boldin? “He’s old and can’t run.” 

With that blunt answer out of the way, let’s take a look at several more notes from around the league…

  • Like Boldin, A.J. Hawk is another veteran that remains unsigned, but he tells Jim Owcazrski of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’s staying in shape and hoping for an interested team to contact him later in the summer. While he allowed that such a phone call might not come until late in camp or even after the start of the regular season (when veteran salaries are no longer guaranteed), Hawk maintained that he has not yet set a timetable for retirement.
  • Robert Mathis hasn’t yet reached free agency like Boldin and Hawk, but the edge rusher is set hit the open market at season’s end. As Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star writes, the Colts haven’t shown any proclivity for hanging on to household names simply for the fanfare, so Mathis might be playing his last season with the club. Could retirement be an option? “I’ll tally it up at the end of the season,” said Mathis. “If I feel I should walk away, then that’s what I should do. But if not, I’m gonna keep playing.”
  • The Chargers‘ decision on whether or not to stay in San Diego could percolate through the end of the 2016 regular season, sources tell Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), who outlines some of the potential legal challenges that could stifle the team’s options. The decision can’t wait for too long, as the Chargers’ to move to Los Angeles expires on January 15, 2017.
  •’s NFL writers each listed a veteran who could be on the roster bubble, and some surprising names made the list, including Barkevious Mingo, Justin Hunter, Marquess Wilson, and Matt Elam.

Extra Points: Smith, Preseason, Patriots, Steelers

The Raiders signing of Aldon Smith isn’t an indication that the linebacker will avoid punishment for his arrest in August, writes Mike Florio of According to the writer, the NFL is currently “reviewing Smith’s case under the substance-abuse policy,” with the DUI charge being the main focus.

While he could be considered a repeat offender, Florio notes that the vandalism and hit-and-run charges “won’t create any significant problems” since they don’t involve violence against another person.

The issue surrounding Smith could be the potential violation of his treatment plan stemming from his previous substance-abuse punishment. If the linebacker is in Stage 3 of the program, Florio says he could be subject to a one-year suspension.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the league…

  • Florio reports that the NFL is currently reviewing how revenue would be lost by reducing the preseason by “as many” as two games. If the schedule is cut down, the NFL would look to recover their lost money via an extended regular season or expanded playoffs.
  • ESPN’s Field Yates passes along a pair of roster bonuses that were earned today (via Twitter): Colts linebacker Robert Mathis ($1MM) and Rams wideout Kenny Britt ($500K).
  • The Patriots asked for the league to reinstate their two suspended staffers, and’s Ian Rapoport says that Troy Vincent, the league’s Executive VP of Football Operations, has formally requested to meet with the duo prior to any decision. Equipment staffer John Jastremski and locker room attendant Jim McNally were suspended indefinitely in May following the release of the Wells Report.
  • The Steelers released a statement regarding tight end coach James Daniel‘s interaction with Patriots fans following his team’s opening-night loss. “We have conducted an internal inquiry into the alleged incident involving Assistant Coach James Daniel at the Patriots stadium Thursday night. After interviews with Coach Daniel as well as other personnel who witnessed the alleged encounter, we find no corroboration that Coach Daniel was involved in any physical altercation with a fan,” the organization said (via Conor Orr of “Coach Daniel has worked as an assistant coach for the Steelers for the past 12 seasons. We have a high level of confidence in his character and are confident that any further investigation of this incident will reveal he was not part of any assault or misconduct involving a Patriots fan.”

AFC Notes: McCoy, Mathis, Browns

After releasing longtime backfield weapon Fred Jackson earlier this week, the Bills could find themselves without his replacement, LeSean McCoy, for their Week 1 matchup with Indianapolis on Sept. 13. McCoy, the Bills’ big-ticket offseason acquisition, has been dealing with a hamstring injury since last month and was noncommittal about his status for the opener when asked by reporters Friday.

“We’ll wait and see,” he said, according to “Only thing I can do is control what I can control, and that’s just working hard and getting treatment and getting ready to go get out there.”

Bills head coach Rex Ryan stated he’s “optimistic” McCoy will be ready for Week 1. If McCoy can’t go, Ryan isn’t ready to name a starter for the Indy game.

“I’m not gonna get into those type of scenarios, the what-ifs and all that type of stuff. I know one thing: This football team will be ready. Period,” he said.

More from the AFC:

  • Buffalo’s Week 1 opponent, the Colts, could have pass rusher Robert Mathis back for the opener, according to head coach Chuck Pagano. “There’s a possibility,” Pagano said, per Mike Wells of “We’ll just evaluate how the week goes. Rob is doing great. He’s making great progress.” Mathis, who had an NFL-high 19.5 sacks in 2013, sat out all of last season after tearing his Achilles.
  • Browns general manager Ray Farmer is suspended four weeks for violating league rules prohibiting certain uses of electronic devices during games last year. Thus, executive chief of staff Bill Kuharich will oversee their player personnel department until Farmer returns, reports Andrew Gribble of the team’s website.
  • The Titans’ starting offensive line is in place, writes Jim Wyatt of “Pretty much, it’s set,” said head coach Ken Whisenhunt. From left tackle to right tackle, they’ll go with Taylor Lewan, Byron Bell, Brian Schwenke, Chance Warmack and Jeremiah Poutasi.
  • The Raiders are receiving interest from teams regarding receiver Seth Roberts, tweets ESPN’s Adam Caplan. Roberts, who signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent out of West Alabama last year, was second in receiving yards (243) during the preseason.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Colts, Raiders

Here’s the latest from around the AFC as Friday wraps up:

  • Broncos defensive lineman Antonio Smith missed voluntary offseason workouts because of an ongoing investigation into criminal abuse allegations against him in Texas. However, he could be with the Broncos when veterans report to their training camp Thursday, Nicki Jhabvala and Troy Renck of the Denver Post report. The 10-year veteran spent last season with AFC West rival Oakland, racking up three sacks (giving him 44.5 for his career), before signing with Denver as a free agent.
  • Kansas City’s Justin Houston signed the richest deal ever for a linebacker earlier this month (six years, $101.5MM with $52.5MM guaranteed), which sets the bar for the Broncos’ Von Miller‘s next contract, writes Jhabvala. “I guarantee you Von thinks he deserves Justin Houston money,” Joel Corry of CBS Sports, an ex-agent, told Jhabvala. By career sack total alone, Miller has a case: He has 49 in four seasons, while Houston has 48.5 in the same amount of years.
  • It’s always risky to expect big things from a player returning from a torn Achilles’, which Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis is doing this season, but head coach Chuck Pagano has high hopes for the 34-year-old linebacker. “He will make a huge impact this season,” Pagano said, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder (via Twitter). Mathis missed all of last season after leading the league in sacks with 19.5 in 2013.
  • In other Colts news, Kevin Bowen of the team’s official website wrote of the concerns centering on the club’s offensive line as the season nears. Indy needs a major bounce-back season from veteran right tackle Gosder Cherilus, who struggled with injuries and poor play last year, and for newly signed Todd Herremans to be the answer at right guard.
  • Running back Latavius Murray was one of the Raiders’ few standouts last season, rushing for 424 yards on 82 attempts (a sterling 5.2 per-carry average) during his first year of action. Oakland is counting on him to be its No. 1 back this season, writes Scott Bair of That would mean a significant increase in workload for the 2013 sixth-round pick.

AFC Links: Browns, Phillips, Williams, Jets

New Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo did not study quarterback Johnny Manziel before accepting the position in Cleveland, writes Mary Kay Cabot of

“I’ll be honest with you. I’m going to be flat out honest with you because it’s the only way I know how to be. I have not. I’ve not watched the games from last year with Johnny. Obviously, I studied Johnny coming out of college and spent some time with Johnny,” said DeFilippo. “I wouldn’t say it was a lot of time, but I spent some time with Johnny. He flew out to Oakland and spent a day with him. Can you get an overview on a guy in one day? No, but you can get a grasp of what he thinks and how he’s feeling and those things. I got along with Johnny when we met with him, but I can’t tell you that I’ve watched the games yet. No, I have not.”

This could mean DeFilippo is not convinced that Manziel will be the quarterback of the future in Cleveland. That point is only further confirmed when he admitted during his pressure that the quarterback situation is still in flux. “We’re not sure if our starting quarterback is in the building right now or not,” said DeFilippo. “If he is that’s great. If he’s not, that’s great too.”

Here are some more links from around the AFC:

  • The Browns are pursuing former journeyman quarterback Steve Walsh to be their new quarterbacks coach, writes Alex Marvez of Fox Sports 1. Walsh has been coaching high school football for the past six years, but has turned down a number of opportunities to coach at a higher level.
  • The Broncos are still looking for a defensive coordinator, and one possibility could be former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips, writes Gil Brandt of (via Twitter). Phillips served as the Texans defensive coordinator for three years under new Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, and the two could reunite in Denver.
  • The Broncos have not hired a defensive coordinator, but they have hired Bill Kollar as their defensive line coach, according to USA Today. Kollar spent the last six years coaching the defensive line for the Texans.
  • The Jets have a pressing need a cornerback, and new GM Mike Maccagnan will have a number of options to improve the position, writes Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. He writes they could go after Antonio Cromartie or Byron Maxwell in free agency, but an intriguing prospect in the draft could be Quinten Rollins of the University of Miami (Ohio).
  • Bills star pass rusher Mario Williams will be playing for a new defensive coordinator for the sixth straight year, writes Kevin Patra of With head coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, the defense will switching back to a 3-4 base. Williams is excited to play outside linebacker. “I look forward to it,” he said. “So hopefully if (Ryan) hears this, this is my call-in: Will Linebacker. So hopefully it works out.”
  • Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis is still recovering from a torn Achilles that forced him to miss all of 2014, but there is no guarantee he will be back in time for next season’s training camp, writes Mike Wells of “He’s still in recovery,” said general manager Ryan Grigson. “He’s a freak and you hope that he has an athletic genetic freak type of recovery so that he’s ready day one of training camp. But that information is not clear yet or a timeline is not there because it’s a tough injury. Hopefully in a couple months from now, we’ll be able to have some information on that.”

AFC Notes: Raiders, Colts, Ryan, Blackmon

After taking a look at a few Thursday headlines out of the NFC this morning, we’ll shift our attention to the league’s other conference and check in on the latest from around the AFC….

  • Earlier this week, Albert Breer of the NFL Network reported that Jon Gruden is a big fan of quarterback Derek Carr and that his presence could help lure Chucky back to Oakland. Now, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk hears that Raiders owner Mark Davis actually drafted Carr in the second round of this year’s draft as a part of his plan to bring Gruden back.
  • As Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star explains, the extra non-guaranteed year tacked onto the end of Robert Mathis‘ current contract isn’t the reason the Colts extended his deal. The extension included a reworking of his 2015 salary that makes it much more palatable for the team to move on from the veteran pass rusher after this season, if he’s viewed as too expensive or if he isn’t recovering well from his torn Achilles.
  • Asked earlier today about head coach Rex Ryan‘s job security, Jets owner Woody Johnson said that’s something the team would evaluate at season’s end. For his part, Ryan told reporters today, “I think we’ll win this year. … I believe in my heart that I’ll be a part of [the Jets’] long-term future” (Twitter link via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News).
  • News that Justin Blackmon has voluntarily entered a treatment facility is a good sign that the troubled receiver may finally be turning his life around, writes Michael DiRocco of In fact, that should make the Jaguars cautiously optimistic that the wideout may return to the field one day. Blackmon is currently serving an indefinite suspension for his third violation of the NFL’s substance abuse program.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Mathis, Gordon, Jets

As speculation swirls around the idea of Jon Gruden reuniting with the Raiders, the Monday Night Football analyst did his best to quell that talk in an appearance on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike today, as Dan Hanzus of writes. Meanwhile, it’s not a certainty that GM Reggie McKenzie will be the person to make the next coaching hire. McKenzie himself acknowledges that he’s on the hot seat. “I work every day like my job is on the line. That’s just the way I am. No one has to tell me my job is on the line. No one,” McKenzie said, according to Scott Bair of Here’s more out of the AFC..

  • Mike Wells and Field Yates of provide a breakdown of the one-year extension Robert Mathis signed with the Colts. The 2016 year includes a $1.5MM roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year, a $3.5MM base salary, and escalators worth up to $1MM depending on how many sacks he totals in ’16. Interestingly, Mathis’ 2015 roster bonus, worth $3MM, has been changed to $3MM in per-game roster bonuses. Because the veteran pass rusher won’t play in 2014, that should remove that bonus money from the Colts’ 2015 cap for the time being.
  • Browns wideout Josh Gordon, who has six games remaining on his suspension, spoke to Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN The Magazine about his suspension, and denied that he has a drug problem. “Definitely not,” Gordon said. “I wouldn’t know what I was addicted to because I don’t do anything.” According to Gordon, who believes he was already in stage two of the drug program when he entered the league, he has taken roughly 180 drug tests since being drafted in 2012.
  • With the Jets still seeking consistent play from their cornerbacks this season, head coach Rex Ryan acknowledged today that the club had interest in signing Brandon Flowers this past offseason before he landed in San Diego (Twitter link via Brian Costello of the New York Post).
  • While many of the notable free agents signed by the Jaguars in the spring haven’t impressed much during their first season with the team, Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union points out that Jacksonville can easily move on from just about all of those players without having to carry much dead money next year or beyond.

Zach Links contributed to this post.