Should the Buffalo Bills Pursue Evan Mathis?

The Philadelphia Eagles released Evan Mathis on Thursday. Should the Buffalo Bills pursue the talented offensive guard?

No player is safe with Chip Kelly. On Thursday, Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles released offensive guard Evan Mathis.

The move wasn’t a complete surprise as Mathis has sat out of OTAs in a contract dispute with Philadelphia. According to Spotrac, Mathis was in line to make $5.5 million in base salary this season, but he felt he was due for a pay raise. Mathis has made back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances in the last two seasons and was a First Team All-Pro in 2013. In addition, Pro Football Focus named Mathis to their All-Pro team from 2011-2013.

As a free agent, Mathis will have no shortage of suitors. Should the Buffalo Bills be among those suitors?

Yes, Call Mathis’ Agent Immediately

It’s not every day that one of the top guards in the NFL hits the free agent market in June. For that reason alone, the Bills should be interested. How good is Mathis? PFF has rated Mathis as their top left guard for the last four seasons. Here’s a look at Mathis’ ratings the last four seasons:

Year

PFF Rating

2011

41.3

2012

52.0

2013

48.3

2014

25.8

 

Mathis’ overall rating dropped last season but it was still good for second among all guards in the league. Mathis’ dominance cannot be understated and the majority of his PFF rating has come from his running block grades.

Year

PFF Run Blocking Grade

2011

26.4

2012

33.3

2013

42.4

2014

17.3

 

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Bills hired Rex Ryan this offseason and he hopes to run a ‘ground and pound’ offense. Adding one of the best run-blocking guards in the NFL would certainly help Buffalo succeed as a run-first team in 2015.

Signing Mathis would also reunite the guard with Buffalo’s starting running back LeSean McCoy. In their last four seasons together, McCoy rushed for 5,075 yards on 1,099 carries, a 4.6 yard per carry average. The New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots all have terrific defensive lines, so adding a talent like Mathis would certainly help the Bills find offensive success this season.

No, Mathis and the Bills Won’t Work

If we’re being realistic, the Bills simply cannot bring in Mathis. First and foremost, the team has very limited cap space. NFLPA’s records show that the Bills about $6.2 million in cap space this season according to ESPN’s Mike Rodak. In addition, Rodak points out that almost half of this amount needs to be set aside for the practice squad and in-season signings. Buffalo could release a few players and make room for Mathis but it’s highly unlikely.

Buffalo needs to think big picture, and that doesn’t include bringing in a 33 year old offensive guard. Players such as Marcell Dareus, Nigel Bradham and Cordy Glenn are all set to become free agents after this season. The team has already stated that Dareus is their top priority and re-signing the defensive tackle will cost quite a bit of money. Bradham also seems like a priority for the team. Keeping all three of these players is unlikely and would be even more unlikely if the team doesn’t have any cap to carry over into next year. Buffalo will add some cap space this summer when some veterans get released and the Bills would be wise to keep this money for 2016.

Buffalo also went out and addressed their offensive guard position this offseason. First, the team signed Richie Incognito and in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft, the Bills picked John Miller of Louisville. Through OTAs, both players are getting rave reviews from Rex Ryan. Recently, Ryan said that Incognito has been outstanding during OTAs. As for John Miller, Ryan said the following:

“I’m ecstatic with Miller. I think Miller’s handled it. I think he’s a 10-year vet out there. He doesn’t make mental mistakes and he’s an athletic guy.”

If Ryan truly feels this way about Incognito and Miller, shelling out big money for Mathis wouldn’t make much sense. Mathis would be a short-term upgrade but it’d put the team in a bad spot cap wise.

At the end of the day, Mathis is going to have plenty of suitors and the Bills are not in a place where they can offer big money.


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