After more than a decade grinding against opposing front sevens, Evan Mathis finally won a ring last season in Denver. Now he'll try to do it again in Arizona.
Mathis agreed to a one-year, $6 million contract with the Cardinals on Wednesday, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, where he'll try to step in and fortify the inside of their line. The Cardinals later announced the news, per Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910 in Arizona.
Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported on Friday Mathis received $3 million guaranteed and $1 million in game incentives, and $2 million is available for other incentives as well.
Adam Caplan of ESPN.com added the potential contract value is actually $6,000,069. The 69 represents Mathis' jersey number.
The veteran guard signed a one-year contract with the Broncos last August after the Philadelphia Eagles released him amid a contract dispute.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post detailed Mathis' thought process after the Super Bowl:
Troy Renck @TroyRenck
Mathis had considered retirement after winning Super Bowl. But began working out not long ago. #Broncos weren't looking to bring him back3/16/2016, 7:25:26 PM
While he failed to make a third straight Pro Bowl team, Mathis found team success in Denver that he never did in Philly. The Broncos won Super Bowl 50 on the back of a strong defense, which allowed Mathis to put his salary issues in perspective.
"When I look back at my career, or when anyone looks back at my career, they aren't going to say, 'How much money did Evan Mathis lose in 2015?'" Mathis told reporters. "I think the opportunity to (play in the Super Bowl) is much more valuable."
From an individual standpoint, Mathis' downturn in play can largely be attributed to injuries. Already recovering from an MCL injury, Mathis played despite an early-season hamstring tear and a high ankle sprain. He underwent surgery on the ankle in February.
Arizona will most likely be Mathis' last stop on his NFL journey. He considered retirement after the 2015 season because of the mounting injuries, and he turns 35 in November. There aren't many guards who make it past their 35th birthday still playing at a high level, even if Mathis doesn't necessarily have the same level of wear and tear on his body.
A backup for most of his career, Mathis didn't truly blossom until signing with the Eagles in 2011. He made his first two Pro Bowl teams and was a regular fixture among Pro Football Focus' top-ranked players.
As he enters a different stage of his career, it'll be interesting to see how Mathis fits in Arizona. The Cardinals will be looking at Mathis to replace former first-rounder Jonathan Cooper, who was traded to the New England Patriots on Tuesday. They've been hunting on the open market for multiple offensive linemen, which was one of the few weaknesses on an otherwise solid team.
If Mathis can even play at Cooper's level or slightly above, this is a huge win for Bruce Arians and Co.
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