I knew as soon as I reported the story that Rashean Mathiswas likely going to skip some practices to voice his displeasure with his contract, he would instantly become the 'bad guy'. The vitriol towards him has already started (not necessarily here, in general) to where fans are lighting him up on a personal level and even saying he should be released. It's always funny how instantly in a contract situation, the player becomes the bad guy in most people's eyes.
Fans need to calm down and stop taking this so personal. It's just business.
Yes, shame on Mathis for jumping on a deal early, but that's how the Jaguars operate. It's very savvy but it can lead to situations like this. They'll throw what looks like "a lot" of money to a player in hopes to lock them up early, before the market sets the price. Pay attention to Maurice Jones-Drew in a season or two, after Chris Johnson, DeAngelo Williams, and Adrian Peterson sign new contracts. The deal Jones-Drew signed will look like peanuts, similar to this current situation.
This isn't a personal insult at the fans. It's not being a "typical greedy athlete". People can whine about how a player "agreed" to a contract and he should honor, but no one makes a peep about teams rarely honoring contracts. This situation has nothing to do with greed at all, so don't go there. He's trying to get fair market value for his position in a line of work that has extremely limited earning potential where he's been underpaid for years. The average NFL career is 3.5 years, which is not even enough time to qualify as a vested veteran and earn benefits. It's all part of the business. Fans should realize Rashean Mathis is actually going about this dispute the right way.
He's not voicing his displeasure on twitter, or local radio, or to the newspaper. He called his coach ahead of time and informed him he would be absent due to contractual reasons. He's skipping voluntary work outs to get his message across to the team that he wants a new deal. It has nothing to do with his "dedication" to the team or being "all-in". He's not creating a distraction. Some will say "well show up to practice and prove it"! He will, eventually. You have to understand if he says he wants a new deal, then rolls an ankle the first day of practice... what's he to do?
OTA's are the perfect time to stage a contractual protest, if you will, as it's the least likely time to cause the most trouble. I actually expect Mathis to eventually show up to OTA's. He's simply making it known he wants a new contract.
Does Mathis deserve a new contract? That's debatable. He's been playing at a $4 million a year clip for a while, and that's been a bargain. Sure, he's had his injuries and he's been burned now and again, but that's all part of being a cover corner in the NFL. Outside of Nnamdi Asomugah and Darrell Revis, even the best corners will experience that. Mathis has played at a high level for the Jaguars for quite a while, so his skipping of OTA's for contract purposes isn't unjust.
I don't expect most fans to feel sympathy for Mathis, but I think the venom thrown his direction is unjustified. Like I said before, Mathis has been the good soldier for the Jacksonville Jaguars since he was drafted. He's not doing anything wrong. We don't even know what kind of contract he's looking to get.
Food for thought:
The Jaguars signed Drayton Florence in the 2008 off-season to a 6-year, $36 million with $13 million in guarantees. They also signed Brian Williams in the 2006 off-season to a 6-year, $32 million with a $10 million signing bonus. In 2005 the Jaguars extended Rashean Mathis for 5-years, $25.5 million with $9.4 million guaranteed.
Never once did we hear a peep from Rashean Mathis about being paid less than two corners not as good as him.