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Eagles players say Mathis' release is about the culture

The Eagles' release of guard Evan Mathislast week led to a stir as Philly opened mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.

Following Chip Kelly's statement that Mathis requested his release multiple times -- which Mathis denied, saying he'd only asked once -- players addressed the removal of the veteran.

Their responses overwhelmingly underscored one main point: It's about the culture.

"(The coaches) had to make decision whether they wanted to keep a guy or further emphasize the culture," center Jason Kelce said, via the Philly Daily News' Zach Berman. "To Evan's credit...he hasn't made this at all a distraction to the team, he hasn't ever been a bad teammate.

"The precedent has already been set. ... It's all about culture. It's all about team. Precedent has been set long before this."

Eagles players echoed Kelly's long-held belief that "culture will beat scheme every day."

"If you don't want to be on the team, then by all means go somewhere else," safety Malcolm Jenkins added. "I'm not judging Evan. I see it from both sides. If you feel like you're a due that money, you're a grown man making a grown man decision."

Still, on Wednesday Kelly himself pushed back against the culture narrative. 

"No, not at all. It's not true," he said of reports that Mathis didn't fit the team's rapport. "It was a money issue and we just didn't come to terms on a money issue." 

Asked how exactly he would describe the culture of his team, Kelly said he didn't think about it much, but still insisted that Mathis was not a culture problem.

"There are a bunch of guys that are working very hard and that's what we're looking for. And Evan works very hard. It was a money decision and we just weren't on the same page with the money," Kelly said. 

Mathis wanted an upgrade on the $5.5 million he was due to play for this season and stayed away from voluntary OTAs. He has told reporters since being cut he had planned to attend this week's minicamp. Kelly said he didn't get that message.

"No, I didn't get that," he said. "When I talked to him on Thursday I told him why we were releasing him and I told him we wish him the best and I hope he gets what he's looking for. So, kind of the end of the conversation," 

"I think Evan got a little bit carried away, and I think it got the best of him," offensive tackle Lane Johnson added. "But I can understand where he's coming from."

The Eagles are moving forward with their culture and Allen Barbre at the guard spot. Where Mathis eventually lands remains a story to track.

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