You know the feeling of finding your favorite DVD for two bucks in the Walmart bargain bin?
That’s probably how Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim felt this offseason when he signed veteran offensive lineman Evan Mathis to a one-year, $4 million deal. At least, that might be the guess by The Ringer’s Robert Mays, who named Mathis to his All-Bargain Bin Team heading into the 2016 season.
The 34-year-old Mathis is coming off a season of minor injuries that didn’t stop him from helping the Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl. That was followed by offseason ankle surgery.
Despite the age and injury concerns, the guard is just two years removed from making his second Pro Bowl as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Adding guard Mike Iupati (and handing the ball to dynamic rookie David Johnson) helped Arizona’s rushing offense jump from 30th in DVOA in 2014 to 16th in 2015, but right guard remained a trouble area for the Cardinals. Ted Larsen and Jonathan Cooper rotated at the position opposite Iupati last fall, and that football adage about quarterbacks — if you have two, you really have none — also rings true for positions along the offensive line. Mathis is a potential force in the running game, and his deal (worth up to $6 million with incentives) is a low-risk move for a team that is only concerned with winning a Super Bowl.
With $2 million in contract incentives, Mathis could potentially make a good deal of cash if he’s healthy.
As Mays writes, it’s certainly a low-risk move for the Cardinals, even if they have questions along the right side of the line. Right tackle D.J. Humphries has yet to play an NFL snap and Mathis has much to prove as head coach Bruce Arians plays it safe by keeping him fresh during training camp.