Free-agent guard Evan Mathis, who visited the Ravens on Thursday and stayed overnight in the Baltimore area, will fly back to Arizona to make his decision, according to multiple reports. Mathis said the Ravens, who lost Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs on Thursday, offered him “a nice deal.”
Mathis, viewed as the third-best guard in free agency by most pundits, started 15 games at left guard for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011, his only season with the Eagles. Mathis was a third-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers' in 2005 and played for four teams in seven seasons, including the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals. He has started in 37 of his 73 career games.
Mathis previously expressed an interest in returning to Philadelphia, where he played perhaps the best football of his career in 2011. The Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts are reportedly also interested, though the Eagles and the Ravens appear to be the frontrunners.
Ravens officials pledged to improve their offensive line this offseason, but it remains in flux. Centers Matt Birk and Andre Gurode are unrestricted free agents, though Birk could be back in 2012. This weekend, left tackle Bryant McKinnie is due a $500,000 roster bonus and the Ravens are scheduled to host free-agent right tackle Eric Winston. And they have to replace Grubbs, whether it is with Mathis or someone else.
Grubbs signed a five-year contract with the New Orleans Saints on Thursday reportedly worth $36 million. His deal includes a $10 million signing bonus and $16 million in guaranteed money.