The Philadelphia Eagles picked up journeyman guard Evan Mathis in free agency before the 2011 season, hoping he could eventually work his way into the starting offensive line rotation.
Mathis not only started all 16 games at left tackle, but he graded as Pro Football Focus’ single best offensive lineman for 2011. He was stellar in run blocking and didn’t give up a sack in pass blocking, making him arguably the NFL’s bargain-deal of the season.
Mathis had signed a one-year deal with the team, but the Eagles recently agreed to terms on a five-year deal worth $25 million, meaning Mathis will stay in Philadelphia through the 2016 season. This keeps all five members of the team’s offensive line intact through at least 2014, giving Michael Vick (and whoever the quarterback of the future is) a strong and stable line blocking for him.
Jason Peters is a rock at left tackle, and the five-time Pro Bowler is signed for three more seasons. Mathis will be here for five more, and right tackle Todd Herremans just agreed to a three-year contract extension that will keep him in Philly through 2016.
Last year’s rookies Jason Kelce and Danny Watkins showed growing pains early, but have promising enough futures to expect solid careers from them, especially Watkins, the team’s first-round pick in 2011.
Kelce is signed through the 2014 season and Watkins through ’14 as well. The unit was instrumental in paving the way for LeSean McCoy in 2011, and assuming the Eagles work out a long-term deal with McCoy, this should be a strength of the team for many years.