The Baltimore Ravens are paying close attention to a situation in Philadelphia that will have a huge impact on the future of the offensive line.
The Philadelphia Eagles released Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis yesterday after he had skipped the team’s voluntary organized team activities this offseason over a contract dispute. Mathis signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Eagles in 2012, but has been seeking a new deal over the past two seasons. Mathis was scheduled to make $5.5 million in 2015 and 2016.
Things got so bad between the two parties that Philadelphia gave Mathis’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, permission to seek out a trade over the last two seasons. Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly went as far to call out the player and agent during the NFL Draft, making it public that he was unhappy with the situation.
“Evan’s been available to trade for two years now and we’ve never had an offer for him,” Kelly said. “That’s through his agent and him. They’ve asked if he could renegotiate a contract and see what he could get and we’ve obliged him with that, but we’ve never had an offer.”
You might have read the headline and thought to yourself that there is no way the Ravens will sign Mathis. They don’t need him. They can’t afford him. However, the Ravens have to be very interested in where he ends up.
Pro Football Focus rated Mathis the top-rated guard from 2011 through 2013, and he finished second to an All-Pro who plays in Baltimore last season. The Ravens have two guards who are due for a new contract next offseason, and they will be playing close attention to the contract that Mathis will garner on the open market.
Marshal Yanda is seeking his second big contract after signing his five-year, $32 million deal in 2011. He will earn a base salary $5.5 million in 2015, the same figure that Mathis was scheduled to make. Kelechi Osemele is looking for a big raise. He is in the final year of his rookie contract and will earn just over $846,000 this season.
If Mathis wanted more money than the $5.5 million he was scheduled to earn, what is going to be the price tag for the Ravens stud guards?
Osemele has been fantastic for the Ravens since they drafted him in the second round of the 2012 draft. He has been a consistent starter since his rookie season, and last season was his best yet. Another monster year in 2015 and he could find himself in the top-10 in terms of salary next season.
Speaking of top-10, Yanda is ranked 10th in total cash earned in 2015 and some of the numbers thrown at the players above him are staggering. Arizona Cardinals guard Mike Iupati will earn $11.5 million and Orlando Franklin of the San Diego Chargers is on the books for $10 million. Both are good players, but not on the same level as Yanda or Mathis.
The wrinkle in the contract scenario is that no player is scheduled to make over $10 million next season. In fact, both players previously mentioned are taking a pay cut in 2016. Franklin will earn $5.5 million, while Iupati is scheduled to make $4.5 million.
There is no way the Ravens pay both guards nearly $10 million a year. The finances make it impossible to do. But will they even pay one that kind of money? That remains to be seen.
One thing is certain: whatever new contract that Evan Mathis signs, the Ravens are most likely going to have to match it to keep an All-Pro guard in Baltimore.
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