Back in June, the Philadelphia Eagles released one of the best guards in football, Evan Mathis. He was set to make $5.5 million in 2015 and wanted a new deal, which the Eagles weren't willing to give him - therefore, the release happened. Ever since then, Colts fans have been wondering whether Ryan Grigson - who has Philly ties and has brought in a number of former Eagles players in the past - would go after Mathis, since the Colts could use help along the offensive line.
Those questions from Colts fans have only increased in the last week after the Colts released starting right tackle Gosder Cherilus, meaning that left guard Jack Mewhort is moving to right tackle and that the Colts cleared up some cap room. So with a guard spot open and money to work with, fans wondered whether Mathis might be in the plans for the team.
According to the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder, that's not the case. He wrote today that the Colts currently "have no plans to sign Mathis despite being bandied about as one of the teams in contention." Wrote Holder:
The logic: The Colts want their existing linemen to develop. The only way to do that is by allowing them to play and, they hope, flourish. Mathis is 33 and on the down side of his career. Though he would give the Colts more stability in the short term, he would not factor into their offensive line in the longer term.
As some might have realized, that approach seems a bit funny when you consider the fact that the Colts had no hesitation about bringing in other veterans this offseason in an attempt to win a championship, and they even brought in another former Eagles lineman in Todd Herremans, who is only one year younger than Mathis. Perhaps that is part of the thinking, however, as the team wouldn't want both of their guards to be in their 30s and not long-term solutions. Instead, it will be a competition between Hugh Thornton and Lance Louis, with others (like Ben Heenan, or hopefully Joe Reitz, or maybe Donald Thomas) also getting looks at left guard. Even then, however, Louis is 30 years old - does that mean that we might see Thornton starting again this year because of his age and because the Colts want to work with him? It's too early to tell that, but according to Holder, the Colts aren't going after Mathis because they want to develop younger talent along the offensive line.
Ideally, that's the smart approach to take. You'd always rather have a young, long-term option than a veteran, short-term one, so the philosophy behind the approach isn't wrong. But it's a fine line between developing young talent and doing what it takes to win, and there's zero doubt that Mathis would give the Colts better play this year.
Instead of signing Mathis, it seems likely that the Colts will reach an extension with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, as Holder confirmed earlier reports that Hilton and the Colts are indeed talking again. Holder also noted that it makes sense to get Anthony Castonzo a new deal this year, though we'll see if that actually happens. But with the team not going after Mathis, it sounds like they might get a few tasks checked off of next offseason's checklist a bit early.