Mathis skipped all 12 of the Jaguars OTA practice sessions as a way to protest the club not being willing to re-do his current contract. Mathis has two years remaining on the $25.5 million extension of his original rookie contract. The deal included $9.4 million in guaranteed money in signing and roster bonuses that locked him to the Jaguars through the 2011 season.
Mathis is scheduled to make $3.95 million this season and $4.45 million in 2011.
Instead of showing up at the Jaguars' football facilities, Mathis was a visitor at the adjacent Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, home of the Jacksonville Suns, the Double-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins. Mathis joined three of his football teammates as guests of the Suns and did several rounds of batting practice on the field.
Afterwards, Mathis broke his silence and spoke exclusively with The SportsXchange, explaining why he was not participating in team drills.
"A workout is a workout and I've been doing this a long time," said the veteran NFL cornerback who will play his eighth professional season this fall. "I'm not a rookie. I know what it takes to get my body right. Right now the practices are voluntary.
"There's nothing that says I have to be there. As long as the guys that I play with know where I stand, and they know where I'm going to be, come game day, I'll be ready then. That's all that matters."
Mathis said his differences with the Jaguars are part of the business side of the NFL. He wants to have his current contract replaced by one that would pay him similar to the top cornerbacks in the league. Though, the NFL Odds are he won't get that.
"I've been in this business long enough and have seen a lot, a whole lot with my tenure here with the Jaguars," he said. "I know how businesses run. I'm going to do my part to get ready for the season, regardless who I'm facing. I always handle it in a business matter and I always will."
Mathis said he has not talked with Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio or general manager Gene Smith about his situation, nor does he plan to have discussions with them. He'll leave that to his agent.
"That's how this part is worked out. There is no one-on-one communication between me and Gene or (senior vice president, football operations) Paul Vance," Mathis said. "There's no business talk between player and GM. A lot of people don't understand that there's no one-on-one communication. The agent handles that side of it, but I'm always available.
"I've been here and have been here every offseason. I didn't go running out of town. I'm still here in Jacksonville. The guys still see my face, they know I'm here. I'm 100 percent down like I've always been."
Asked if he thinks he will be in the starting lineup for the Jaguars season-opener against Denver on Sept. 12, Mathis said that decision wasn't in his hands.
"If they plan on having me there, then I plan on being there," said Mathis who got married two weeks ago. "Like I said, it's the business side of it. We're all businessmen. We're not just football players, we're businessmen too.
"We have careers. We have families that we have to take care of as well. I'm going to do my part to be there."
Strictly Business for Mathis
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