Evan Mathis was one of the pleasant surprises of the Philadelphia Eagles' 2011 season. Picked up in one of their least trumpeted offseason transactions, he stepped into the starting left guard job in training camp and performed as one of the top guards in the entire league. He learned Howard Mudd's blocking schemes quickly and provided reliability and leadership on the offensive line. The Eagles would like to have him back.
But the Eagles have not been paying attention to unrestricted free agents -- even the ones who could be on the way out of their own locker room. Defensive end Juqua Parker signed with the Browns on Thursday. And, as Jamison Hensley tells us in his daily AFC North wrap-up, Mathis could be closing in on a new deal with the Baltimore Ravens.
"I think it's a good fit," Mathis told the Carroll County (Md.) Times. "We had a good meeting."
Asked if a deal is imminent, Mathis said: "We're not at that point yet."
Now, just because Mathis is going to dinner with the Ravens doesn't mean the Eagles are out of it. First of all, Baltimore's only about an hour's drive from Philadelphia, so he could easily get back and see the Eagles on Friday even if he wakes up in Baltimore. Second, he played for the Eagles this year, so it's not a place he'd have to visit before signing. And third, these things can be handled on the phone. But the fact that the Ravens are putting a big push on, and that Mathis is talking so positively about them, makes you think the Eagles are in danger of losing a key piece of their very good 2011 offensive line. And with the top guards on the market already having signed elsewhere, they could have a hard time finding a sufficient replacement.