Player: Evan Mathis
Explanation: Like Ryan Harris, Mathis found his 2015 season going from 0 to 60 when he went from a street free agent to key starter on the Broncos offensive line in a matter of weeks. The former All-Pro guard was let go by the Philadelphia Eagles after a contract dispute and Mathis’ reported feud with then coach, Chip Kelly.
As one of the best rated Guards in recent years, Mathis found himself in a position free to choose
which team he could go to. Like many established veterans on the street, they wanted to find a team that could give them the best chance to win a championship. He found that and then some when he signed with the Broncos well into Training Camp.
Although he didn’t live up to his Pro Bowl ceiling, Mathis was still a solid option for the Broncos at Left Guard, starting 15 games (12 in the regular season, 3 in postseason).
Despite being the starter at the Left Guard position for most of the season, his spent much of the time rotating snaps with rookie Max Garcia in an effort to get the most out of Mathis when he was on the field. The results spoke for themselves. He was solid, but not fantastic.
Ultimately, I don’t think he’ll return for one simple reason… His age. At 34 years old and playing well over a decade in the NFL, Mathis could contemplate retirement. Also keep in mind that he is a free agent, as he only signed a one year deal with the Broncos. We’ll see how his situation plays out, but hopefully Mathis decides that finishing his good career as a champion is better than trying to scrape by with another team as his play continues to decline.
Player: Louis Vasquez
Player: It’s not very often you see TWO All-Pro Guards on the same roster, but it’s even more uncommon that you see both of those talents being let go in the same off-season.
So why would we get rid of Louis Vasquez? Vasquez is just not an ideal fit for the Broncos zone-blocking scheme. When he signed with Denver in 2013, the Broncos employed a big bodied, power blocking scheme that relied on mowing over defenders instead of cutting them.
Not only was Vasquez a good fit for that kind of play, he was fantastic in his first year as a Bronco, earning an All-Pro nomination. Unfortunately, that style of play did not continue for the Broncos after that.
Between a bad scheme fit and being owed nearly 7 million in 2016, Vasquez profiles as this year’s “surprise cut” when the league year starts.
At only 28 years old, Vasquez could easily bounce back and prove to be a very good player again with the right team, but I just don’t see that team being the Broncos.
I thank Vasquez for the work that he’s done with the Broncos the last three years and wish him the best moving forward in his career.
Player: Tyler Polumbus
Explanation: Not much to say here. At this point in his career, the eighth year pro provides good
depth for a zone-blocking scheme but that’s about it. I could see the Broncos brining him back for another year to compete in camp, but he seems like a guy that you could re-sign in July rather than trying to get him back when the league year starts next week.
With 57 starts in his career, Polumbus is a guy that should provide experienced depth for whichever team he ends up. He started his career in Denver with a zone blocking scheme and I could see his career ending on the same note.
He’s far from fantastic, but he could be valuable depth again next year if the Broncos find themselves with another injury prone front.
For the Broncos sake, let’s hope that doesn’t happen and Polumbus can be seen as a low priority luxury rather than a depth starved necessity.