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Robert Mathis staying away from Colts OTAs; wants a new deal

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Robert Mathis is one of my favorite Colts. I know he reads this site and I know he cares about what Colts fans think. So, because of that, I express regret at his decision to avoid OTAs in favor of a new deal.

From Mike Chappell, via PFT:

Robert Mathis' desire for an enhanced contract has resulted in the team's two-time Pro Bowl defensive end avoiding the ongoing organized team activities, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation.

...

Mathis, 29, has two years remaining on a front-loaded $30 million contract he signed in 2006. He's due a base salary of $2.31 million this season and $2.4million in 2011.

Robert was a 5th Round pick out of little known Alabama A&M back in 2003.So, when he got that $30 million dollar deal back in 2006, it was a bit of a coup. The reason the contract was front-loaded is that the Colts likely wanted the last two years of Mathis' salary to be manageable. $2.3 and $2.4 mill for 2010 and 2011, respectively, is VERY manageable for a player of Mathis' caliber.

But, as Michael David Smith of PFT makes clear:

But it's hard to see how Mathis has very much leverage. The Colts signed him to a front-loaded contract worth $30 million in 2006, and he still has two more seasons on that deal. He's due base salaries of $2.31 million in 2010 and $2.4 million in 2011. The whole reason teams sign players to front-loaded long-term contracts is so that they can lock a player in for affordable salaries down the road. If the team was going to agree to renegotiate down the road, there was no reason to agree to a front-loaded deal.

The other point Smith makes is the Colts aren't going to do a damn thing with Mathis until Peyton Manning is locked up for the rest of his career. Manning's contract ends in 2011, and the Colts will likely offer him a contract fairly soon that will make him the highest paid player in the NFL. As I've said, when you win four MVPs, and a Super bowl MVP, you can pretty much "Priceline" your new contract.

So, for Robert Mathis to do this now is a bit silly. The team has people like Bob Sanders, Anthony Gonzalez, and Adam Vinatieri at OTAs. All those guys are coming back from serious injuries, and here they are busting their butts to get back on the field. If they are at the facility working, Robert Mathis should be too.

There's also the fact that Robert signed this contract knowing full and well that by 2010 and 2011, he'd be making 2.3 mill. For the average fan, the stance is "You signed it. Now, honor it." Also, with Mathis already pocketing somewhere in the region of $20 million over four years, complaining about a contract now just makes him look greedy.

However, from Robert's point of view, since his 2006 extension he's averaged just about 9 sacks a year and forced 18 total fumbles! With numbers like that, if Mathis were a free agent right now he'd see deals near (but not exceeding) DeMarcus Ware's $78 million dollar deal from last year. The reality though is Robert is NOT a free agent, and he is also NOT DeMarcus Ware. Robert signed his contract in 2006 knowing that 2010 and 2011 would be the "cheap" years. Complaining about it now, and hurting the team in the process, does not make sense.

Sorry Robert. I still love ya, but holding out of OTAs over this is very silly.