ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Not long after praising his young offensive line Tuesday, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak welcomed two-time Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis to Denver. The 11th-year pro agreed to a one-year deal that could be worth up to $4 million.
Suddenly, Peyton Manning goes from having three NFL novices protecting him to working behind a line with a top set of guards.
Mathis and Louis Vasquez were first-team AP All-Pros in 2013.
The Broncos remain high on rookie left guard Max Garcia, but they already have two starters — left tackleTy Sambrailo and center Matt Paradis — who have never started an NFL regular-season game.
General manager John Elway said Mathis “will immediately make our team better.”
Mathis was a classic late bloomer, starting just 22 games for three teams (Carolina, Miami and Cincinnati) between 2005-10. He blossomed in Philadelphia, where ProFootballFocus.com rated him the league’s top guard from 2011 to 2013 and the second-highest last season, when he missed seven games with a knee injury.
Mathis made the Pro Bowl each of the last two seasons and has allowed just 5 1/2 sacks since 2011, the fewest among starting NFL guards in that span.
The Broncos were looking for more experience even though their young O-line has been a bright spot this summer. Denver has allowed just two sacks and only one of them with the starters on the field — at that, it appeared tight end Virgil Green missed his check on the play.
Thumbnail photo viaÂ Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images