Raiders new offensive line coach Mike Tice has called his unit “the engine” that powers the offense.
He’s said that even if a team has some nice pieces – such as a good quarterback, wide receivers and a running back – they don’t mean much if the blockers up front can’t get their jobs done.
Which is why the Raiders could be in the market for former Eagles guard Evan Mathis.
Recently, the Eagles released Mathis, 33, a two-time Pro Bowler, who was asking for a better contract.
Right now, the Raiders offensive line looks like Donald Penn at left tackle, Gabe Jackson at left guard and Rodney Hudson at center. Those three are set. At right tackle, either Austin Howard or Menelik Watson is expected to emerge as the starter. But at right guard, the picture is a bit murky. It could be veteran Khalif Barnes, rookie Jon Feliciano or Matt McCants.
The Raiders’ engine could have plenty of more horsepower with the addition of Mathis, the former University of Alabama standout who has graded out as the No. 1 guard in the NFL the past three seasons by Pro Football Focus.
Recently a panel of analysts on NFL.com looked at Mathis’ options and came to the conclusion that the Raiders are one of four prime landing spots for the former Eagle, along with the Giants, Seahawks and Broncos.
“Mathis was due $5.5 million in 2014 and that will be a difficult salary to find at this stage of the offseason,” wrote NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal. “So what team has enough cap space and desperation to pay the oldest projected starting guard in the league that kind of money? Look to Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie.
“Mathis will be driven to get top dollar, and the Raiders are a logical team to pay it. I lok at this Mathis contract as an experiment to see how much a Pro Football Focus ranking is worth. The analytics website has essentially put Mathis’ play at a Hall of Fame level since 2011. We’ll see if McKenzie agrees.”
On Monday, Mathis' agent said "multiple teams" are interested in Mathis, but declined to mention who those teams might be.