The cornerback position for the Detroit Lions is filled with young players that have yet to prove their potential with the team. Chris Houston has provided veteran experience, but was very inconsistent in 2013. With these issues overshadowing the Lions this offseason, bringing back Rashean Mathis next season would help address the problems.
Mathis has been in the NFL since 2003, after being drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second round. He played both cornerback and safety his rookie year before serving duties at cornerback full-time in 2004. Mathis was one of two players to represent the Jaguars in the 2006 Pro Bowl, after compiling 63 combined tackles and eight interceptions. He was also a first-team All-Pro in 2006, alongside Champ Bailey.
The Bethune-Cookman alum was let go by the Jaguars in March of last year after tearing his ACL in 2011, causing him to miss a handful amount of games in 2011 and 2012. He later signed with the Lions in August of 2013 to add depth and experience to their struggling cornerback position.
Mathis settled in well in former defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham‘s defense last season, finishing the year with 47 combined tackles and 16 passes defended. Mathis will turn 34 once the 2014 season gets under way, and if he doesn’t show signs of decline because of age, he will find himself wearing Honolulu blue and silver again.
In the last two NFL Drafts, Detroit has used four picks on cornerbacks, including Bill Bentley, Jonte Green and Chris Greenwood in 2012 and Darius Slay in 2013. The Lions desperately need to develop these players in order for them to contribute frequently every week, or else they will have to waste more draft picks on defensive backs. There’s a possibility that the team uses their No. 10 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft on either cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State or Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State.
It would be surprising if Mathis wasn’t offered a one or two-year contract to remain in Detroit, but according to Anthony Kuehn of Lions Gab, Mathis could walk away to find a better deal with another franchise if he believes he can consistently play at a high level for a couple of more years.