Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis is sitting out the Colts’ organized team activities because he wants a new contract.
Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star reports that Mathis, who in the past has been an eager participant in voluntary workouts, is now staying home over his unhappiness with his deal.
But it’s hard to see how Mathis has very much leverage. The Colts signed him to a front-loaded contract worth $30 million in 2006, and he still has two more seasons on that deal. He’s due base salaries of $2.31 million in 2010 and $2.4 million in 2011. The whole reason teams sign players to front-loaded long-term contracts is so that they can lock a player in for affordable salaries down the road. If the team was going to agree to renegotiate down the road, there was no reason to agree to a front-loaded deal.
Furthermore, the Colts have already said that their first priority is re-doing quarterback Peyton Manning’s contract. They’re not going to start spending big money on other players until they’re sure they have enough money to get Manning locked in.
And then there’s this harsh reality that NFL players all eventually have to face: Mathis is 29 now and will be 31 by the time his contract expires, and the Colts spent their first-round draft pick on a defensive end, Jerry Hughes. If anything, the Colts are starting to plan for a future without Mathis, not planning to give him a new deal.