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Ryan Mathews to Eagles: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2015

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Ryan Mathews' five-year stint in San Diego is over. Mathews and the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms on a three-year contract on Thursday, the team confirmed.

NFL Network's Adam Breer reported the contract is worth $11.5 million.

Mathews talked to reporters and commented on the move:

Denis Poroy/Associated Press

Mathews' outlook for signing in Philadelphia was temporarily uncertain due to the team's negotiations with DeMarco Murray. ESPN's Adam Schefter noted that while the Eagles and Mathews had agreed upon a deal earlier in the week, nothing had been signed. He also reported early Thursday that Murray is expected to join Philadelphia, so it remained to be seen if Mathews would opt to sign elsewhere.

NFL Network's Albert Breer announced Mathews hadn't returned from his scheduled physical and the situation between the sides was "fluid."

On Wednesday, Schefter first reported that Mathews and the Eagles had agreed to a deal, which Ian Rapoport of NFL.com later confirmed. 

A first-round pick in 2010, Mathews' five-season run with the Chargers was fraught with ups and downs. He battled near-constant injury issues, playing in 16 games only once while failing to become the franchise cornerstone San Diego had envisioned.   

All told, Mathews has missed 20 games during his career, including 10 last season. Mathews went down with a sprained MCL in Week 2 and missed the Chargers' seven subsequent games. After coming back for a four-game stint, Mathews went down with an ankle injury that cost him the final three contests. He finished with a career-low 330 rushing yards—less than half he'd put up in any previous year.

While it should have been somewhat expected given his spotty injury history, 2014 was undoubtedly Mathews' most disappointing campaign. He was coming off a season in which he'd played 16 games for the first time, setting a career high in rushing yards (1,255) and finally looking like the player the Chargers thought they drafted. Perennial Pro Bowl status was out of the question, but expecting above-average production was reasonable.

Instead, the Chargers got nothing and moved on as a result.

Mathews won't be subject to such high expectations in Philadelphia. The Eagles wouldn't be spending a high first-round pick on him with the hopes he'd lessen the burden on their quarterback. Mathews would compete for carries and be a relatively low-cost option who can either start or serve as a primary backup to Murray. The low cost and fungibility of the running back position makes signing veterans like Mathews potentially high-value deals.

In the rare instances in which Mathews has been healthy for an extended period, he's generally been effective. He holds a career 4.4-yards-per-carry average and is an above-average pass-catcher out of the backfield. Pro Football Focus notes how well Mathews ran after contact: 

Pass-blocking remains an issue for Mathews, but he's not unusable in blitz pickup. Mathews is a consistent churner of yards, and though he rarely breaks away for long gains, he's not stopped regularly without managing some headway.

Health, though, remains the biggest looming factor in whether this is a smart buy-low for Philadelphia or another disappointment waiting to happen.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.