Free-agent OL Evan Mathis agrees to one-year deal with Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- As the Denver Broncos went about their business in practice Tuesday, the team's executive vice president of football operations/general manager, John Elway, had a cellphone pressed tightly against his right ear.

And roughly two hours after the practice was over, the Broncos agreed to terms with guard Evan Mathis on a one-year deal. Mathis, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, will receive a $2.5 million base salary with the ability to earn up to $4 million if he hits all of the play-time incentives, sources told ESPN.

The $1.5 million worth of incentives will include percentage of offensive snaps played as well as amounts for each week Mathis is on the active game-day roster, according to multiple sources.

"Evan Mathis is an accomplished veteran who has played at a very high level for the last several seasons," Elway said in a statement. "He will immediately make our team better, and we are excited to have him as part of the Denver Broncos."

A free agent, Mathis became available after he was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles amid a contract dispute. Mathis was looking to renegotiate a five-year, $25.5 million deal he signed in 2012. Mathis turned down a $5.5 million offer from another team, but signed in Denver because he wanted to play for a top contender, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Had he not been cut, Mathis would have been in line to make $5.5 million from the Eagles this season.

Mathis projects to start at left guard for Denver, putting a veteran player into a youth movement in the offensive front. The Broncos have had rookie Max Garcia at left guard through the bulk of training camp as well as the two preseason games.

Garcia, rookie left tackle Ty Sambailo and center Matt Paradis, who was on the team's practice squad as a rookie in 2014, gave the Broncos a left side of the offensive line with no NFL regular-season starts to protect star Peyton Manning.

Coach Gary Kubiak, however, has lauded Paradis' play in particular of late, and there had been some feeling in the organization Sambrailo would be helped by a veteran presence alongside him. The Broncos still very much consider Garcia a future starter even if Mathis is quickly moved into the lineup.

Mathis has experience in a West Coast offense dating to his time with the Eagles during the Andy Reid era, so the transition should go quickly. The Broncos' most likely combination on the offensive line for the Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Baltimore Ravens would be Sambrailo at left tackle, Mathis at left guard, Paradis at center, Louis Vasquez at right guard and Ryan Harris at right tackle.

Following practice Tuesday, Kubiak took a so-far, so-good approach in his assessment of the line's play, but also left often the possibility a move could be made.

"It's still the group, it's been the group, it's still the group," Kubiak said. "I will say this, I'm really impressed by how far they've come. I think we've got to continue to keep it in perspective, that we don't get too far ahead of them. We're trying not to and they're responding. ... Every day is a test, every week is a test, but I think where they've come so far is a positive. We're trying to get them ready to go against a really good group in three weeks."

The Broncos released kicker Connor Barth to make room for Mathis. That leaves Brandon McManus as the only kicker on the roster.

Information from ESPN's Adam Schefter and Adam Caplan contributed to this report.