Not only is free agent lineman Evan Mathis on his way to Seahawks headquarters.
He’s coming to take a physical examination.
So said Seattle coach Pete Carroll following Friday night’s 14-13 exhibition loss at Kansas City. The team flew home following the game and was due back to their Renton headquarters in the early hours of Saturday.
“He’s coming for a physical. That’s all,” Carroll said of Mathis, the 33-year-old, two-time Pro Bowl guard who would be a proven veteran for a needy offensive line.
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Philadelphia recently released Mathis at his request, according to Eagles coach Chip Kelly.
Many see Mathis’ much-publicized visit to the Seahawks as something of a leverage ploy to get Miami and the New York Jets, two more teams interested in signing him, to pay more for him this season.
But Carroll skipping preliminaries and mentioning “a physical” rather than merely a visit suggests Seattle is doing more than merely kicking the tires in its interest.
Mathis had been scheduled to earn $5.5 million with the Eagles. So if he declined that odds are he’s not coming cheaply to whichever team ultimately signs him.
Seattle would seemingly have to do some salary-cap gymnastics to be that team. The Seahawks have just over $4 million in cap space for this year. That doesn’t include the million or so they will need for their practice-squad pool of players once they set a regular-season roster the first week of September.
The Seahawks have gone through 11 first-team offensive linemen in training camp and two preseason games this month. That includes five left guards, after former No. 1 draft choice James Carpenter left for the New York Jets in free agency in March.
Justin Britt, Seattle’s starter at right tackle as a rookie last season, made his first start at left guard Friday night against the Chiefs. The right guard has remained J.R. Sweezy, the starter there for the last few seasons.
The Seahawks’ new line, including 2014 practice-squad guard Drew Nowak starting at center and former college tight end Garry Gilliam at right tackle, improved over last week’s exhibition opener by allowing only two sacks Friday. But Seattle managed just 36 yards on its first 18 rushes against Kansas City.
That’s not going to cut it in the regular season for the league’s top rushing offense the last few seasons – though it’s true Marshawn Lynch has yet to touch the ball this preseason, per usual. That run game remains the foundation of this offense and much of the team.
Asked if the Seahawks have reached a point three weeks before their opener where they need to stick with five starting blockers for the sake of continuity and consistency, Carroll said: “There’s not going to be a lot of movement.”
But then the coach added there “still could be a real competitive situation at right tackle,” and at center between Nowak and Lemuel Jeanpierre, the backup to since-traded Max Unger the last five seasons.
A real competitive situation at right tackle could indeed develop if the Seahawks do sign Mathis. That would send Britt back to right tackle to compete with Gilliam.