Teams don’t typically put up Pro Bowl offensive linemen on the NFL trade block. So it will be interested to see what happens with Evan Mathis. He’s coming off arguably the best season of his career, an integral part of the unit that paved the way for the best rushing attack in the league in 2013. Unfortunately his age (32) and $5.5 million cap number in 2014 is becoming problematic for the Philadelphia Eagles. That is why he is up for grab. Are there any team that might pull the trigger?
Determining teams that should have interest depend on three primary factors: salary cap space, trade price and position need. In terms of all three of those criteria, the Cleveland Browns meet every one. They have the most remaining cap space in the league at $31 million, more than enough to handle Mathis’ number. One of their primary needs going into the draft is at guard, which created loads of problems for them in both pass protection (49 sacks) and run blocking (86.4 ypg) last year. Mathis would improve each of those stats the instant he walked in the door and since Cleveland has five picks in the first three rounds, they can afford the trade price.
Is this really any surprise? The Miami Dolphins had the worst offensive line in the NFL last year, allowing the most sacks (58) and mustering just 90 yards per game. Ryan Tannehill was constantly under siege and until that problem is fixed they have absolutely zero hope of challenging the New England Patriots for the AFC East crown. They took a step in the right direction when they signed Branden Albert early in free agency but the makeover is far from complete. They need interior blocking almost as much as the edges. The issue is, sitting at 19th in the draft might be too early to consider a guard, leading the idea that perhaps adding Mathis can give them a short-term solution while they bolster the roster elsewhere. Salary cap won’t be a problem as they have $19 million available. The sticking point will be the trade price.
At first glance one would thing the Buffalo Bills don’t have a line problem since they averaged 144 yards on the ground in 2013. However, they also allowed 48 sacks and much of that running production game from quarterback scrambles. Their front has some holes in it and getting a veteran presence on the interior would be of huge benefit for their cause. Keeping E.J. Manuel upright and healthy is paramount for head coach Doug Marrone. Evan Mathis may cost them an NFL draft pick but the peace of mind he will bring their young quarterback is worth every penny provided the coaches take proper advantage.