While I took a breather for a few days, Howie Roseman continued to pay his own players large sums of money.
Technically, Evan Mathis wasn’t his player anymore, as he had the chance to visit with the Ravens too (who needed to fill the hole left by Ben Grubbs, who left for the Saints, who needed to fill the hole left by Carl Nicks, who left for the Bucs, who needed to fill the hole left by Jeremy Zuttah, who’s being moved to center to fill the hole left by Jeff Faine, who was released and is now auditioning for the return of Prison Break to television).
Roseman got him back all the same, though, bagging him for 5 years and $25.5 million, $7 million guaranteed. Mathis can make somewhere north of $31 million overall if he hits all the incentives in his deal.
Mathis has shown flashes of brilliance before, but he finally got a chance to start full time last year and was, by all accounts, a boss. One wonders if he can maintain that kind of play for another full season, seeing as he’s never really had to before, but since he hasn’t played a ton over his career, he still has plenty of tread on his tires – perhaps why the team was willing to give the 30-year old a 5 year deal.
The Eagles have all kinds of stability on the offensive line now, and getting Mathis was definitely their best option at guard, rather than signing a replacement-level player and letting him compete with the oft-deactivated Julian Vandervelde for the job. And with the average salary somewhere between $5 and $6 million depending on whether Mathis hits certain escalators, the deal puts him in the upper salary range of guards without paying an embarrassingly disproportionate amount based on actual quality of play (here’s looking at you, Buccaneers guards other than Carl Nicks).
With all of that wonderful stuff being said, the “line stability” argument leans heavily on the way the line played for the second half of last season – not exactly an enormous sample size. (If the Eagles as a team played at the rate they did the last four games of last year, they’d have gone undefeated – ohhhhhmaaaaaannnn!!!)
That’s a risky bit to bet on considering the middle of the line will consist of three guys with one full season or less of starting football under their belt, two of whom are rookies. If any of them regress, fail or get injured, you’re looking at Vandervelde, King Dunlap, or recently-signed Mike Gibson.
Still, even the prospect of offensive line stability is something most teams would love to have. It’s what made the Giants so tough to beat in the mid-to-late 2000’s. If the middle of the line plays as well as it did last season, the Eagles will actually have the best line in football (as opposed to that “best offensive line in the league” that counted on actual production from the Andrews brothers a few years ago). It’s just not as foregone a conclusion as some might think.
Other Eagles things…
· Because of the pending TV contract, conventional wisdom says the salary cap is going to balloon over the next few years. The Eagles aren’t counting on that, hence the multitude of long-term, relatively cap-friendly deals now, and they’ll benefit from it regardless of whether or not the cap goes up significantly – if it doesn’t, they’ve prepared for it, and if it does, they have oodles of extra cap to re-sign guys or pick up free agents. (Of course, the guys currently under contract then will probably also be aware of how able the Eagles are to spend and ask to get re-upped)
· Speaking of extensions, the Shady McCoy extension is still progressing, If/when this gets done, Jeremy Maclin has to be next on the list. His deal runs out after 2013-14. Big year for J-Mac – if he can make a big jump this coming season, as opposed to being the “Not DeSean Jackson” guy, he’ll have all kinds of leverage. If he posts another 60-catch, 850-yard year, though, the Eagles could be more eager to lock him up at a low value the way they did with Jackson.
· The Eagles didn’t sign Dan Connor because…let’s get real here. Now Dallas has him to pair up with fellow Penn State product Sean Lee. With those two between DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, in addition to the signing of very good No. 2 corner Brandon Carr, the Cowboys are a Mike Jenkins rebound season away from having an excellent defense.
Elsewhere in the NFL…
· The Giants signed Martellus Bennett because Eli Manning is a fan of jokes.
· Either Rex Grossman thinks that RGIII will sit on the bench while Grossman “help[s] out that guy get up to top speed,” or he’s willing to accept the backup quarterback job for the Racistnames. Whatever. John Beck knows he’s the best quarterback on the team.
· The Racistnames whiffed on Eddie Royal, which is a shame because they really like mediocre wide receivers. They also got Brandon Meriweather and Cedric Griffin. Cool.
· Not Matt Dodge received a five-year extension for not being Matt Dodge.
And Automatic Dave is gone too. Le sadness.