RUNNING BACK Ryan Mathews signed a 3-year, $11.5 million contract with the Eagles, with $5 million guaranteed, knowing full well that DeMarco Murray was lurking elsewhere in the practice facility, hammering out the details of his reported 5-year, $42 million contract, with $21 million guaranteed.
When Mathews stepped to the lectern in the NovaCare auditorium, it was hard to avoid the thought that the warmup act had taken the stage.
"It didn't deter me at all," Mathews said, after explaining he had some idea the Birds were pursuing Murray before he arrived to sign.
Asked whether he'd thought he was coming to be the featured back, with LeSean McCoy traded to Buffalo, Mathews said, "That was never brought up" in contract discussions.
"It was more about the team" and Eagles coach Chip Kelly's system, he said.
"Being able to play with a guy like that, it'd be great," said Mathews, who joins a backfield that includes Darren Sproles and restricted free agent Chris Polk. "I wouldn't shy away from that at all."
Mathews, the Chargers' first-round pick, 12th overall, in 2010, said he spoke to Murray at NovaCare, but "he was going this way, I was going that way. We'll catch up."
Chipping away at Mathis, too?
The great Chip Kelly demolition of the foundation he inherited from Andy Reid continues. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the Eagles were trying to trade left guard Evan Mathis. A source close to the situation told your Eagletarian that the chances of a Mathis trade are "very real," adding, "I expect something to happen."
Mathis, 33, was among the least-heralded signings in the "dream team" extravaganza of 2011, but he turned out to be the best of the group. He has been chosen for the past two Pro Bowls. But Mathis missed seven games last season with a knee injury, part of a blizzard of injuries that struck an aging offensive line.
The Eagles released guard Todd Herremans, 32, last week; he signed with the Colts. The Eagles gave Mathis permission to seek a trade last offseason, when he was unhappy with his contract, but there were no takers. It's hard to see how, with Mathis a year older and having suffered a significant injury, he and his $6.5 million contract are more attractive now, but there was some reported buzz yesterday among several teams, including Miami.
A thought many Eagles fans are sure to have: The Dolphins employ former Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan, who has not flourished there since being drafted third overall in 2013.
The Eagles would net $4.5 million in cap room if they traded Mathis, which might be the appeal.
Even though the o-line does need to get younger, it's a surprise the Birds think they can smoothly replace both Herremans and Mathis in the same offseason, given that there aren't a lot of great free-agent options. Current backups such as Allen Barbre, Andrew Gardner and Matt Tobin have not yet shown themselves to be top-notch long-term options.
Kelly, asked about the Mathis trade report yesterday, said: "In the last week, I think every person on this team was talked about on the trade block. We've had discussions with everybody about everybody and everything. As we put together models, there wasn't anybody that was untouchable. We were willing to trade LeSean McCoy and Nick Foles."
ESPN's Andrew Brandt reported that the Eagles will try to rework and extend quarterback Sam Bradford's contract. Bradford is due to make $12.985 million this season, all of it counting against the cap, in the final year of his rookie deal as the Rams' No. 1 overall pick in 2010. This isn't a surprise, but if it happens, it could reinforce the notion that the team sees a future beyond this season with Bradford, who is coming off two ACL tears . . . Cornerback Walter Thurmond met with reporters after signing his 1-year contract. Thurmond, who played at Oregon and then for Seattle and the Giants, said he can play inside or outside. His lone Giants season ended after two games with a torn pectoral muscle last year. "I feel confident in both positions," Thurmond said. "They're two different roles, two different techniques that you have to play."