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NFL Free Agency: Should The Arizona Cardinals Pursue Evan Mathis?

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Yesterday's poll results in the free agency series definitely signaled some of the closest voting we have had in the NFL free agency series thus far. Although Carl Nicks is undoubtedly a great talent, the only concern fans seem to have is how much he would cost. For that, only 55% of the fans voted that the Cardinals should pursue him in free agency.

Today, we will examine a player that is probably the most talented run blocking guard in the league. Evan Mathis was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles before the 2011 season and showed that he has the talent to be a great interior lineman. Now that his contract is up, should the Cardinals go get him? Let's find out.

Pro Football Focus, as we all know, goes through every single player in the NFL and gives them a grade using their own special and complex system. Most of the time, their grades seem to mirror how the player appears to play on the field according to the naked eye. With that said, it should be noted that in 22 starts, Mathis has only received a negative grade from PFF once. The only reason he received this grade was because he left the game early with an injury.

Last season, Mathis scored a +20.4 running blocking grade overall from PFF. In pass protection, he scored a +10.6. That grade was justified because he gave up zero sacks, three QB hits and 12 quarterback pressures in 2011. Obviously, some of these stats are augmented due to the elusive ability of Michael Vick, but they are still impressive nonetheless.

The only red flag that should be raised with Mathis is his injury history. Since being drafted in 2005, Mathis has never been able to start all 16 games in a season. Last season, Mathis was not able to participate in the game against the Cardinals due to a turf toe injury.

Another quick thing to note is that Mathis is accustomed to playing as a left guard. That, again, is where Daryn Colledge currently resides. If Mathis were to be signed by the Cards, one of them would be forced to the right side.

Mathis will not cost a team near as much as Carl Nicks will, but the injuries will undoubtedly scare some suitors away. Still, I think that if he is willing to possibly move to the right side and sign a medium length contract, the Cardinals should go after him. Somewhere around a 3 year, $20 million contract would be ideal in my eyes, but I'm not sure he would go for it. Still, it would be nice to bring that type of talent in to bolster the interior of the line.

What do you think? Should the Arizona Cardinals go out and sign Evan Mathis once free agency begins on March 13? Tell us what you think and vote in the poll.

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