Evan Mathis won’t talk about his contract.
But he promises this: If he’s seeking a new deal, he won’t turn the situation into a bitter, made-for-TV docudrama that interferes with the team’s overall objective.
In other words, he’s not the 2014 version of T.O.
“I think with those contract questions, you haven’t heard anything from myself, you haven’t heard anything from [agent Drew] Rosenhaus, the Eagles,” the All-Pro left guard told CSN’s Derrick Gunn on Thursday. “For that type of matter I think it’s best that anything stays in house, just be professional about it.
“If I did ask for a new contract, I’m not going to tell [the media] I want a new contract. How are you going to get me a new contact? Seriously though, for all that type of stuff, the best approach would be to keep it in house.
“I’m here. I’m not holding out. I much prefer reading the articles and the hate tweets and everything from conjecture as opposed to any information that ever came from anybody that knew anything about the situation.”
Mathis, who made his first Pro Bowl after the 2013 season, approached the Eagles about re-doing the five-year, $25.5 million he signed before the 2012 season, a league source told CSNPhilly.com in March. The team responded by advising Mathis and Rosenhaus to check the market to see if another team would be interested in dealing for him.
Nothing substantive has happened since, but Mathis doesn’t seem overly upset.
When pressed further about his contract situation, Mathis joked about one of the franchise’s most notoriously sour contract dispute moments, when the Eagles sent Owens home from training camp in 2005 for disruptive behavior.
That day, Owens ended up on nearly every regional and national sports report, doing exercises in his driveway before reporters and playing basketball in his Moorestown mansion driveway with neighborhood kids.
“If I’m going to answer any contract questions I’d prefer to do it from the comfort of my driveway, while I’m doing a Richard Simmonds-type workout,” Mathis said. “Maybe some sit-ups and some curls or something.”
Asked if the team granted him permission to seek a trade, Mathis stayed true to form.
“We’re not in my driveway,” he said, “and I’m not doing sit-ups right now. So what did I say about that?”
Owens’ contract dispute became such a headache for the team in 2005 that the Eagles released him in the middle of the season.
Mathis dismissed the suggestion that any contract dispute, real or perceived, would cloud his focus.
“A distraction? No,” he said. “I mean, I’m not going to let anything distract me from my job, which is to play football. And I can handle anything you guys (reporters) throw at me. So that’s not going to distract me. If you want to keep asking questions, I’m here to answer them. So it doesn’t really bother me, and if people want to keep tweeting to me I’m right there. I’m wide open. I’m easy to get to, so it’s not going to be a distraction.”
Mathis, 32, was a journeyman who played for three different teams after being drafted in the third round by Carolina in 2005 until he latched on with the Eagles in 2011. He worked his way from street free-agent signing to three-year starter at left guard who made the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams this past season.
Is he the league’s best left guard?
“I think so,” he said. “I mean, that’s just really saying something out of confidence and trying to play well. It’s not like I’ve gone through and watched every left guard, every snap. So, I want to be the best, I want to believe I’m the best, but to actually answer that question factually I would have to go grade every other guy on every single play and I don’t have time to do that.”