Wednesday, December 17, 2014

After Deciding Against Holdout, Mathis Is Focused On Football

Late last month, Evan Mathis was fully prepared to be a no-show when the Eagles reported for training camp.

After Deciding Against Holdout, Mathis Is Focused On Football

Late last month, Evan Mathis was fully prepared to be a no-show when the Eagles reported for training camp.

“Probably won’t see you on the 25th,’’ he said back then.

But there he was Friday, at the NovaCare Complex, with the other 89 players on the Eagles’ roster.

As recently as Wednesday, Mathis still was considering holding out. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Mathis still was “considering his options’’ and hadn’t made up his mind yet about report.

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But ultimately, the 32-year-old All-Pro left guard decided he couldn’t do that to his coaches, teammates, and yes, Eagles fans.

“I didn’t want to have a negative impact on the team,’’ he said. “I didn’t want to send the wrong message to players, coaches, fans. I think I’m doing the right thing.’’

Mathis still has three years left on the five-year, $25 million contract he signed with the Eagles in March of 2012. He has a $5.15 million base salary this year, which isn’t chicken feed. But he was a first-team All-Pro selection last season and none of the money in the three remaining years on his deal is guaranteed. If he were to suffer a serious injury this season, there’s a good chance he would never see the $11.5 million he’s scheduled to receiver in 2015-16.

His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has had several conversations with the Eagles about restructuring his deal. But the team is wary of redoing a deal that still has three of the five years on it left to run.

“It was easy for me to sit there and think about (holding out) a month ago,’’ Mathis said. “But when it was getting closer to the wire, it was just not something I could see myself doing.

“For multiple reasons. When I was in elementary school and got sick, I felt bad because I was behind. This isn’t the kind of stuff you want to get behind on.’’

Players under contract who hold out of training camp are fined $30,000 a day. But Mathis said that had no bearing on his decision to report because he probably would have had the fines forgiven if he eventually had his deal redone.

“(The fines) would be a gamble you would be willing to take if you were to hold out,’’ he said. “The fines had nothing to do with it. I wasn’t scared of the fines. It was what I’d be doing to my teammates and coaches. That’s the ultimate reason (I reported).’’

Mathis admitted that the recent suspension of right tackle Lane Johnson, who will miss the first four games of the season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, gave him considerable holdout leverage.

“It gave me a lot of leverage to hold out,’’ he said. “But again, I just would feel wrong putting my team in that situation.’’

Three years ago, wide receiver DeSean Jackson was unhappy with his contract situation and let that unhappiness affect the way he played. Mathis said that won’t be a problem for him.

“I’m able to put anything on the back burner when it comes to playing football,’’ he said. “I’ve dealt with a lot of stuff in my career, and I’ve always been able to block it out and focus on the game.’’

 

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