Earlier this week, we shared a report that talks between the Colts and impending free agent defensive end Robert Mathis were “warming up.”
Len Pasquarelli of the Sports Xchange has been hearing differently. Pasaquarelli reports that there’s been no warming up in the talks because the two sides haven’t had any negotiations as of Thursday night. The only conversations between Mathis’ camp and new Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson have been of the getting to know you variety and that no contract proposals have been exchanged.
There’s still a chance that the Colts could use the franchise tag on Mathis, although Pasquarelli describes Mathis as “dead set” against being tagged. The tag would buy the Colts some time to take care of the Peyton Manning situation once and for all before moving on to other business. If they were willing to give Mathis a long-term deal, it’s possible they’d risk a little unhappiness now to make sure they don’t lose him once free agency opens on March 13th.
Complicating matters in Indy is that Chuck Pagano has a history of running 3-4 defenses while Mathis has only played defensive end in a 4-3 front. He might be athletic enough to make a switch, but how much money are the Colts really willing to risk on that? If they are moving on from Manning (and Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and others), it doesn’t make much sense to make that kind of gamble on a player who, at 31, might not be around when they put everything together again.
Even though he’s 31, Mathis’ edge rushing ability figures to get him plenty of offers if he hits the open market. The Titans, to name one 4-3 team with a need at defensive end, would probably be interested in making a run at a guy they’ve been trying to block for years.