By Mary Cunningham
When Eagles guard Evan Mathis took his agent’s advice and held out for a $3 million raise on his $5.5 million contract, Chip Kelly cut him in the spring.
Drew Rosenhaus was sure his client would sign, and bragged that nine teams were in the bidding for the 34-year-old, often-injured Mathis.
Well, training camps have opened all over the 32-team NFL, and Rosenhaus’ prediction has proven as wrong as most of his public utterances.
When Mathis was cut, the first team to show interest in signing him was the Miami Dolphins.
Mathis is the nephew of former Dolphins Pro Bowl nose tackle Bob Baumhower, who lobbied the team to sign him. People close to owner Stephen Ross have advocated signing Mathis, and Mathis is a more than solid player at a position the Dolphins have uncertainty has led to speculation that Mathis is bound for Miami.
But as of yesterday, Mathis is not headed for Miami, and he is unsure where he’s going to play in 2015.
And the Mathis camp and Dolphins are far apart on the money issue while neither side feels any significant desperation or feels close to any looming deadline to do a deal.
The Dolphins were willing to do a deal similar to what they did a year ago with guard Daryn Colledge and center Samson Satele. In other words, the Dolphins are willing to pay an older stopgap player around $2-$3 million per season in a deal that doesn’t tie them up for a second season although it might be a two-year deal.
Mathis, who was scheduled to earn $5.5 million from the Eagles in 2015, wants a deal that at least makes him back that money he was expecting. He wants to feel whole again.
And as the Dolphins are comfortable — for now — with the work rookie Jamil Douglas and third-year player Dallas Thomas have done in camp, they’re not likely to move significantly right away. It would require one or both those players fading in camp or performing poorly in the preseason for the Dolphins to rethink their stance.
Mathis, meanwhile, is playing a waiting game. If any of 32 teams suffers a significant injury at guard or the performance of the guards teams have in camp collapse, then he becomes a likely signing closer to his desired contract number.
And while Mathis might give the Dolphins the courtesy of having them match whatever good deal he can get elsewhere, he is not waiting on Miami. Obviously, the Dolphins are holding Mathis off, knowing all this.
So that’s where things are. A wide gulf exists. There are no exigent circumstances for either party to force one or the other to cave and do this now.
Give it time.