ENGLEWOOD, Colo.— The last 24 hours at Denver Broncos headquarters at Dove Valley have been busy. Yesterday, the Broncos agreed to terms with two-time Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis on a one-year deal, worth up to $4 million.
To make room on the roster, the Broncos had to make an early decision on their kicking competition, releasing Connor Barth. That leaves Brandon McManus as the sole kicker on the roster. If McManus' performance in training camp and preseason translates to the regular season, history will judge this move well.
There were several teams invovled in the Evan Mathis sweepstakes and the Broncos got involved late in the process, according to Mathis. But Gary Kubiak saw a player who could step in and immediately upgrade the roster.
“Obviously, he’s a great player and great person, too," Kubiak said Wednesday. "He brings a lot of experience to a group that doesn’t have a lot of experience. [When] a 10, 11-year player walks in the room, obviously all the young guys know him. It’s a great addition to our football team. [We are] really looking forward to having him."
Mathis was released by the Philadelphia Eagles back in back in June, after a failed 15-month negotiation process on a contract extension. Having been out of football during one of the most crucial times for players to get into football shape—training camp—Mathis' conditioning will be crucial.
“What we’re doing is we basically but him with [Head Strength and Conditioning Coach] Luke [Richesson] today to try to find out exactly where his conditioning level is," Kubiak said. "Luke said he looked good. I think tomorrow we’ll probably do a little bit of individual work. We’ll work him through it. We’re not going to just throw him out here right now. We’re going to have a plan every day.”
If anyone questioned whether Mathis would be the starter at left guard come Week 1 vs. the Baltimore Ravens, Kubiak answered that emphatically today, saying, “Yeah, I mean that’s why we brought him here."
For rookie fourth round pick Max Garcia, the Mathis signing is not an indictment on his progress, but rather, it's a move to bolster a unit replete with question marks and inexperience.
“We have a lot of confidence in [C/G] Max [Garcia]," Kubiak said. "Max has done a great job. I talked to Max first thing yesterday and explained to him that it wasn’t about anything he’s done. It’s about us having a chance to get a great player and improve our football team. The key is how good are we? How strong are we? how deep are we going to be as a football team? We just obviously got stronger on the front.”
Matt Paradis has performed well early in the preseason as the Broncos first-team center. Although it's doubful that the Broncos would make a change there, giving Garcia a look at center is not out of the question.
“I think there may come a point," Kubiak said. "We’re sitting here talking about Evan’s stages he will go through to get to where we need to get him. With that being in mind, Max needs to keep doing what he’s doing for right now. We know he’s played there [center]. You start to talk about your seven [active linemen] on game day. That could be a topic at some point, but I think we take it one day at a time.”
If you were hoping to see Mathis' No. 69 jersey in action vs. the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, we hate to be there bearers of bad news, but you're going to have to wait a little bit longer for his debut.
“I think that’d be too much to ask," Kubiak said. "That wouldn’t be very smart on my part. I’m not going to do that. He might suit up, but he’s not going to play. I can tell you that.”
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