Pump the Brakes: Why Evan Mathis is Not a Good Move for Miami
Miami Dolphins fans have a pattern. And yes, I am a victim to this pattern. If you are a Dolphins fan, so are you. So was your great grandfather, and so was his father before that.
The Miami Dolphins’ fan base is obsessive. This often leads to targeting one player, and fixating on acquiring that player whether it does or does not make sense. Currently that player is Evan Mathis. Dolphins fans had enough of the revolving door formerly known as Dallas Thomas after just one season. But before crying out for the team to trade for the Eagles’ elite interior lineman, it is important to examine the move very carefully. In theory, trading for a Pro Bowler to replace a struggling young player makes sense. But when you look at the circumstances surrounding Mathis’ contract, and the Dolphins’ financial situation, this trade is not a wise move for Miami.
Last Season’s Issues:
Imagine this: you are sitting in your house getting ready to leave for work, when someone walks in and informs you that your car has vanished and you will be forced to drive stick shift for the rest of the week. You protest, “But random intruder, I have never driven stick!” As you begin to call the police, realizing a stranger has inexplicably entered your home and claims your car has vanished (aka he stole it), the stranger offers you some words of wisdom: learn fast.
Dallas Thomas was forced to play a position he was unfamiliar with on the Dolphins’ line in 2014 due to injuries suffered by Branden Albert and Mike Pouncey. He was constantly shifting between guard and tackle, and as a young player it is difficult to hone your abilities without a consistent place on the line. That being said, it would be prudent to give Dallas Thomas one more year to prove himself. Miami’s fans excuse Ja’Wuan James’ sorry play at left tackle, realizing injuries forced him out of position. Why can the same courtesy not be extended to Dallas Thomas?
This season, Thomas should be able to play at a consistent position, which will help him develop as a young player. Hopefully he can progress and help keep Ryan Tannehill upright. Scary, scary stuff.
We Can’t Afford Evan Mathis:
The Miami Dolphins have committed an enormous amount of money to the offensive line in the past two seasons, signing Branden Albert and Mike Pouncey to huge contracts. The team is also on the hook for massive payouts to Ndamukong Suh, Brent Grimes, Cameron Wake, Ryan Tannehill, Reshad Jones, and Jordan Cameron in 2016. In addition to having a cap crisis on the horizon, Miami will likely look to extend Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller as they enter contract years. That being said, please direct me to the universe in which Miami can afford to bring on a veteran guard with a big time contract? I think that universe sounds really nice. That’s probably the same universe where Stub Hub found the Ticket Oak from those terrifying commercials. I still have nightmares about that damn tree.
Evan Mathis’ contract is the main impetus in Miami acquiring the talented lineman. He is set to make $6.5 million this season, and $7 million in 2016. One would think that doesn’t sound too bad for a player with All-Pro honors and 2 Pro Bowls under his belt. But, there is one key detail: HE WANTS MORE MONEY.
The reason Mathis is seeking a trade from Philadelphia is that the team gave big contracts to Jason Kelce and Jason Peters, while selecting Lane Johnson with the fourth overall pick in 2013. Philadelphia has made it clear that Mathis is not in the long-term plan, but the Eagles are obviously content to ride out the rest of Mathis’ contract if he and his agent cannot find a trade partner. One of the main roadblocks in finding a trade partner has been Mathis’ desire to make even more money than his current contract allots.
Not only could the Dolphins not afford Evan Mathis on his current contract, but also would have to pay him even more money if they decided to bring him in via trade. Unless you were able to direct me to the Ticket Oak of salary cap dilemmas, I think the team is out of luck.
Time to Move On:
I want to make sure the point of this article does not get misconstrued: I think Evan Mathis would make the Dolphins’ line infinitely better. He would be a huge improvement over Dallas Thomas, and would allow Thomas to grow and learn without the pressure of protecting Tannehill in the upcoming make or break season. But, I would much rather have Pouncey and Albert locked up long term than have an aging veteran who remains unsatisfied with an already substantial contract. When your front office is walking the salary cap tightrope, it can be dangerous to bring a player in who has a history of reaching deeper into his team’s pockets.
Along with cornerback and linebacker, the offensive line remains one of the team’s less solid units. If the team sinks in 2015, it is fairly likely that Dallas Thomas will have something to do with it. I really would like him to surprise us all. Nothing would make me happier than to see him stand up Mario Williams on 3rd and 7 with 1:20 left in the 4th quarter down by 4. While having Thomas overachieve in 2015 seems somewhat unlikely, the solution is not Evan Mathis. The Miami Dolphins are tiptoeing the line in regards to the salary cap, and bringing in Mathis could set the team’s financial state out of balance, and could bring more problems to Miami than it might solutions.