When I first saw these numbers, 11.5 million over 3 years with 5 million guaranteed, I thought it was a great deal for the Eagles. Mathews obviously has an injury history, playing all 16 games just once in 5 seasons, including missing 20 games combined, including 10 last season. However, when he’s healthy, he has feature back potential. In 2011, he rushed for 1091 yards and 6 touchdowns on 222 attempts (4.91 YPC), with 50 catches for 455 yards. In 2013, he rushed for 1255 yards and 6 touchdowns on 285 attempts (4.40 YPC), with 26 catches for 189 yards and another touchdown.
This deal is less money than Frank Gore (3-year, 12 million with 7.5 million guaranteed), Shane Vereen (3-year, 12 million with 5 million guaranteed), and Mark Ingram (4-year, 16 million, with 7.6 million guaranteed). Mathews is significantly younger than Gore, has the feature back potential that Vereen doesn’t have, and is more proven than Mark Ingram. However, that all changed when the Eagles signed DeMarco Murray as well.
It’s hard to tell what Chip Kelly is doing. I loved the LeSean McCoy trade, but, ever since then, every move he’s made has been head scratching, except the Brandon Graham deal. This still isn’t a bad deal value wise, but it’s a lot of money for a backup running back and it’s just a weird move on both sides. Why wouldn’t the Eagles find a cheaper backup and why wouldn’t Mathews sign somewhere like Arizona or Jacksonville or Oakland or Dallas or back to San Diego where he could get more work?
This kind of reminds me of when the Chargers signed Donald Brown to a 3-year, 10.5 million dollar deal last off-season even though they already had Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead. It wasn’t a bad value, but it didn’t make any sense. I don’t expect Mathews to rush for 2.62 YPC like Brown did last season. That was just a weird thing that happened, unrelated to the weird decision to sign him to starter’s money to be a backup. However, I don’t expect this move to work out and it’s not a move I like.