Evan Mathis has made the Pro Bowl in back-to-back seasons, and yet he is without a contract. Mathis, 33, was released by the Eagles in June and is currently a free agent.
“It kind of reminds me of the lockout year,” the offensive guard told Damon Amendolara and Jason La Canfora, who were filling in as hosts of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I was a free agent during the lockout, and I had zero clue where I would be. So I was just working out the whole time, training hard, preparing for a season, not knowing what playbook I would be using or where I would be playing.”
You might think that Mathis is extremely nervous not to be on a roster. After all, training camps begin soon, and the season is right around the corner.
Mathis, however, is not concerned in the slightest.
“A lot of people don’t understand what it’s like to be a free agent,” he said. “I was released on June 11. So to become a free agent right at the end of OTAs and minicamps – and, more importantly, right at the beginning of the only pretty much dead period in the NFL when the teams, players, executives and everyone is taking their vacations – we’re waiting and they’re waiting. There’s no point in signing. You also have to take into account today’s deadline with the franchise tag and things like that. So I haven’t missed anything. There’s no rush at all, and we still have a good week-and-a-half, two weeks before most training camps get started. The teams have been patient just as we have, so there’s really been no point in rushing to get anything done. So exactly what my options are aren’t as clear as they will be in a week or two.”
Mathis, a third-round pick in 2005, has played for the Panthers, Dolphins, Bengals and Eagles.
“I had four head coaches in college, so I’m pretty used to changing systems and getting new playbooks and learning them fast,” Mathis said. “For example, the lockout year, I signed July 31, so I missed like the first two days of camp and all of a sudden I’m thrown in the mix and learning the playbook on the fly. And I think I had a pretty good year that year. So at this point, it really comes down to the verbiage of everything. A lot of it is something dressed up differently or called a different name when most of the concepts are schematically similar. Most of the techniques are applicable from one offense to another offense. I don’t think I’m going to have any trouble with the transition. There’s going to be a sense of urgency to learn the playbook as well as I can, and I will try to do it as fast as I can. But I’m not going to suffer from it.”
Indeed, Mathis is less concerned about scheme and more concerned about the three Cs: contracts, coaches and championships.
“Yeah, scheme actually is lower on the priority list for me because I feel like I can play in any scheme,” Mathis said. “But you’re measuring the contract, you’re measuring the coaches, the contender aspect. Geographical location is kind of on there, but I think the other factors are a little more important.”
Mathis, of course, was one of several elite players with whom the Eagles parted ways this offseason. Several former Eagles have taken shots against Chip Kelly and the organization after being shown the door, but Mathis has not done so – and did not do so even when La Canfora gave him the opportunity.
“I’m going to choose to say nothing on that matter,” Mathis said. “I’ll just stay professional there.”