After two offseason of drama and dispute, the Philadelphia Eagles and veteran guard Evan Mathis have finally parted ways. Mathis had not participated in voluntary Offseason Team Activities due to a contract dispute that has been ongoing since the end of the 2013 season.
Mathis arrived in 2011 as a training camp body, offering veteran depth along the line. He quickly escalated into the starting lineup, and became of to he premier interior linemen in the league. Mathis made the Pro Bowl in three straight seasons from 2011-2013, and was instrumental in the Eagles’ 2013 NFC East title.
Geoff Mosher found this out about Mathis’ plans regarding mandatory minicamp:
Just asked Evan Mahtis if he had planned to show up next week. Response via text: "Yep. Flight was scheduled for Monday."
— Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherNFL) June 11, 2015
With Mathis gone, it is clear that Chip Kelly believes in his systems, and in his depth. Kelly knows the NFL is a results business, and losing a key player could severely hamper his offense in trying to win games. However, Kelly also knows that culture brings championships, as commitment to a plan can keep a team focused during adversity. This college-type mentality is the reason players like Mathis, DeSean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy are no longer on the team. Only time will tell if culture beats talent.
To replace Mathis, as well as departed vet Todd Herremans, the Eagles will be relying on key backups over the past two years to step up. Matt Tobin is high on the Eagles list of candidates, as he was given ample opportunity to prove himself last season, when many starters went down. Even after Tobin was hurt himself, he was inserted immediately back into the starting lineup despite the play of other backups like David Molk. Allen Barbre will be manning one of the two positions, and based on reports, Barbre will be playing Mathis’ left guard spot.
Last year,s line, which struggled mightily through the beginning of the season, will become the primary starting five for 2015. If the results of last year resurface, this could be anther short year for Sam Bradford, whose injury history is a serious red flag. If, however, the group gains continuity (which could be why the Eagles cut Mathis so early: it allows the linemen to gel together), this line could stay heathy and lead the way for a more power-running offense.