How the Eagles' OL could look following Evan Mathis' release
The drama between the Philadelphia Eagles and Evan Mathis is finally over. On Tuesday afternoon, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport confirmed that the Eagles released their disgruntled guard.
Mathis had been holding out to be paid like one of the best players at his position. The Eagles held all of the leverage, as Mathis was under contract through the 2016 season for $5.5 and $6 million, respectively. In the end, Mathis wore out his welcome under head coach/general manager Chip Kelly and leverage didn't play much of a role. You either fully buy into what Kelly is preaching or you'll no longer be a member of his team. With Todd Herremans and now Mathis gone, the Eagles will start two new faces at offensive guard in 2015.
Although Allen Barbre was originally expected to slot in at right guard in 2015, he will now most likely start at left guard. Barbre has been taking first team offensive repetitions at left guard during OTA practices with Mathis absent. According to offensive line coach Rick Stoutland, he looks better on the left side than he did on the right.
"Better than on the right," Stoutland said, per Philadelphia Magazine. "He’s a lot more comfortable. I think he’s been a left-side player for a long time. He was not generally on the right. We moved him on the right last year because we needed him to play multiple positions. But he had always been more comfortable as a left-side player by far. Ask him that right now. He’ll tell you that."
The Eagles will now turn to Andrew Gardner at right guard. In limited action in 2014, Gardner held his own at right guard when Herremans was out. According to Pro Football Focus, through 471 offensive snaps, Gardner graded out as a positive run blocker. Gardner will definitely need to improve his pass blocking going forward. Gardner allowed four sacks despite playing in just eight games in 2014.
The Eagles are putting a lot of pressure on two largely unproven guards heading into 2015. With a projected starting quarterback who has battled injuries throughout his career in Sam Bradford, interior pressure could become a major issue for the Eagles' offense early in the season. The Eagles could certainly become players in free agency at the guard position as teams begin to trim down their rosters throughout the summer.
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