Oh, what could have been.
Denver Broncos offensive guard Evan Mathis wrote a huge e-mail to Broncos beat writer Mike Klis about his 2015 season. It involves stories about former Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and how Mathis sent the coach a YouTube video in order to get released, his worst three plays of 2015, playing through serious injuries and needing surgery, and how the Patriots were interested in signing Mathis prior to the season.
The Eagles released Mathis early in June 2015 and the Patriots had a serious need at guard. Mathis gives the following timeline.
June 15th: Rosenhaus sends me a list of the teams that expressed interest in me: Falcons, Dolphins, Vikings, Patriots, Giants, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Titans, Redskins. Of that list, I was most excited about Patriots and Seahawks.
July: Weirdly enough, I had a dream that John Elway called me.
2nd week of August: Broncos reach out to Rosenhaus and jump in the mix with an offer.
August 20th: Remaining interested teams are Dolphins, Broncos, Seahawks. I get a text from Peyton Manning. It seems he was assigned as my recruiting host. I thought that was pretty cool.
August 21st: Colts inquire about what it would take to sign me.
August 22nd: I take a visit to Seattle for physicals and meetings.
August 24th: Seattle bows out.
August 25th: I decide I need to make my decision on this day and it comes down to an aggressive Mike Tannenbaum of the Dolphins offering 5.5 million after incentives or the Broncos offering their original offer of 4 million after incentives. Denver didn't bring their offer up after hearing Miami's offer.
Denver says I have to be there that night so I pack up quickly and hop on a flight.
At this point in the year, the Patriots were moving on from offensive captain Dan Connolly, who retired during the offseason. Veteran guard Ryan Wendell was unable to play most of the preseason due to his offseason shoulder surgery, and had not started to battle the illness that kept him out of the early part of the season, or the knee injury that landed him on the injured reserve.
The Patriots played the 2015 season with rookies Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson, and third year Josh Kline at guard. A top tier veteran guard would have helped.
So apparently the Patriots dropped out of consideration during the month of July, while the Seahawks remained in contention. It's probable that Mathis, who signed a $2.5 million base contract with the Broncos, with playing time incentives with a maximum value of $4 million, was out of New England's price range.
But my goodness, what a butterfly effect. If Mathis signs with the Patriots, it's hard to see New England not winning the AFC. Quarterback Tom Brady played behind the worst offensive line of his career and Mathis is a huge step above the likes of Kline, Mason, or Jackson.
If Mathis signed with the Patriots, it would also have weakened the Broncos. He definitely could've helped the Patriots win homefield advantage, or at least his absence in Denver could've led to another Broncos regular season loss.
"Had the Patriots beat the Dolphins in the final game of the season to secure home field advantage," Mathis posed in his e-mail. "Would things have played out differently?"
I'm walking down a dangerous path with this alternate reality. But, man, things really could've been different if the Patriots signed Mathis.